Legal group says Clinton can't be secretary of state

Chris Rizo Dec. 2, 2008, 5:29pm

Hillary Clinton (D)

Barack Obama (D)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to serve as President-elect Barack Obama's secretary of state, a legal watchdog group said Tuesday.

Judicial Watch said the Ineligibility Clause of the United States Constitution says that no member of Congress can be appointed to an office that has benefited from a salary increase during the time that person was in Congress.

The Washington-based group points to a January 2008 Executive Order signed by President George W. Bush during Clinton's current Senate term that increased the salary for secretary of state.

"No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time," Article I, section 6 of the U.S. Constitution says.

Obama announced Monday that Clinton, the junior senator from New York, was his pick for secretary of state.

Judicial Watch said former U.S. President Richard Nixon circumvented ineligibility provision after appointing former Ohio Sen. William Saxbe, a Republican, as attorney general.

The Nixon administration was able to get legislation passed that reduced the salary to the level that existed prior to Saxbe's appointment.

Former President Bill Clinton used the so-called "Saxbe Fix," to allow Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, to assume the position of treasury secretary.

"There's no getting around the Constitution's Ineligibility Clause, so Hillary Clinton is prohibited from serving in the Cabinet until at least 2013, when her current term expires" said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

"Barack Obama should select someone who is eligible for the position of Secretary of State and save the country from a constitutional battle over Hillary Clinton's confirmation," he added.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

More News