Washington Post Declare Gen. Schwarzkopf Illegally Knighted
Posted by Adam Blickstein
Well, that would be the argument of Ronald D. Rotunda and J. Peter Pham who inanely write in tomorrow's Washington Post that President Obama is constitutionally barred from accepting the Nobel Prize:
An opinion of the U.S. attorney general advised, in 1902, that "a simple remembrance," even "if merely a photograph, falls under the inclusion of 'any present of any kind whatever.' " President Clinton's Office of Legal Counsel, in 1993, reaffirmed the 1902 opinion, and explained that the text of the clause does not limit "its application solely to foreign governments acting as sovereigns." This opinion went on to say that the Emolument Clause applies even when the foreign government acts through instrumentalities. Thus the Nobel Prize is an emolument, and a foreign one to boot.
One problem: the hero of the first Gulf War, Gen. Normon Schwarzkopf, received an honorary Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth (which technically makes him a "Knight of the British Empire") in May of 1991 while still on active duty. According to Rotunda and Pham's argument, this violated all kinds of constitutional constraints, Emolument Clause notwithstanding. He retired at the end of August 1991, meaning the General was clearly a foreign agent for the British Empire for approximately 3 months, because how can you be a Knight and an American General at the same time? Where would his loyalty really be? Under this Op-Ed's logic, Schwarzkopf's retirement South should have sent him to the Naval Brig at Charleston, not the golf courses of Florida.
Another government luminary who should have fallen victim to the Emolument Clause as the authors of the Op-Ed envision it? Alan Greenspan, who received his Honorary British Knighthood in 2002 while still serving as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. How could President George Bush sit there idly as the Chairman overseeing America's treasury was more a servant of Britain's Queen Elizabeth than the Commander-in-Chief of the United States? I'm shocked that the entirety of America's money supply didn't end up alongside the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. But apparently, there was concern in Conservative circles over the legality of Greenspan's ascension in the British Empire. According to Newsmax, the Federal Reserve's General Counsel cleared Greenspan under the Emolument Clause:
[N]o person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them [the United States], shall without the consent of Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or title, of any kind whatsoever, from any King, Prince or foreign state
Congress gave its consent to the acceptance of certain gifts and decorations in the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act (originally enacted in 1966)....The Act defines "decoration" to include "an order, device, medal, badge, insignia, emblem or award." The Department of Justice has ruled that an honorary knighthood is an "order" as permitted by the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act.
Even Conservatives acquiesced that a Knighthood was not in violation of the Emolument Clause. I assume the same logic applies to a Nobel Prize.