Written by Tom Fitton
JW Files Appeal with Supreme Court in Legal Challenge to Hillary Clinton Appointment
Judicial Watch has taken a lawsuit challenging Hillary Clinton's constitutional eligibility to serve as Secretary of State to the United States Supreme Court. On December 31, 2009, we officially filed our appeal. (Actually, the technical term for our court filing is a "Jurisdictional Statement," which you can read in its entirety here).
It has been almost a year since we originally filed this lawsuit against the Clinton appointment on behalf of Foreign Service Officer David C. Rodearmel. Here's the crux of our argument:
The Ineligibility Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits Clinton from serving as Secretary of State and Mr. Rodearmel cannot be forced to serve under the former U.S. Senator, as it would violate the oath he took as a Foreign Service Officer in 1991 to "support and defend" and "bear true faith and allegiance" to the Constitution of the United States.
Here's why: The Ineligibility Clause clearly states: "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." However, as Judicial Watch notes in its complaint, "the 'compensation and other emoluments' of the office of the U.S. Secretary of State increased during Mrs. Clinton's tenure in the U.S. Senate, including as many as three times during the second, six-year term to which she was elected."
Unfortunately, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court dismissed Judicial Watch's lawsuit on October 29, 2009, ruling that Mr. Rodearmel lacked "standing" to bring the lawsuit. However, the court did not address the constitutional merits of the lawsuit itself. We hope the Supreme Court will.
Obviously it's never a given that the High Court will accept a lawsuit on appeal. But if the Court follows the letter of the law, it will hear our argument and answer this Ineligibility Clause issue once and for all.
According to federal law, an Ineligibility Clause appeal related to the position of Secretary of State may be brought directly to the U.S. Supreme Court within 20 days of a judgment on the validity of the appointment. Moreover, the law states, "The Supreme Court shall, if it has not previously ruled on the question presented by an appeal...accept jurisdiction over the appeal, advance the appeal on the docket, and expedite the appeal."
And what are the questions presented?
(1) Whether an Officer of the United States, when placed in a position where he must either violate his oath of office or risk substantial, adverse consequences to his employment, has standing to maintain a challenge to the appointment of a constitutionally ineligible superior.
(2) Whether members of Congress who are otherwise ineligible for appointment to an office in the Executive Branch under the plain language of Article I, section 6 of the Constitution, can have their eligibility restored by an act of Congress.
With respect to the issue of standing, Judicial Watch contends that Mr. Rodearmel "demonstrated in the district court that he is being injured in his employment by being required to serve under, take direction from, and report to a constitutionally ineligible superior, Mrs. Clinton. This is because [Mr. Rodearmel] has been placed in a position where he either must violate his oath of office or risk substantial, adverse consequences to his employment."
With respect to Congress' attempt to circumvent the Ineligibility Clause by "rolling back" compensation for the position of Secretary of State to the level in effect on January 1, 2007, Judicial Watch maintains: "This [fix] does not and cannot change the historical fact that the 'compensation and other emoluments' of the office of the U.S. Secretary of State increased during Mrs. Clinton's tenure in the U.S. Senate."
Some politicians have tried to characterize the Ineligibility Clause as an insignificant technical issue that can simply be ignored. Not so. The Framers specifically and carefully constructed the Ineligibility Clause to prevent corruption and cronyism. And if our government and courts will not observe even the plain and unambiguous provisions of the Constitution, then we are cut adrift from the anchor of law, and liberty and the rule of law is in jeopardy. We hope the Supreme Court takes this opportunity to vindicate the Constitution.
I'll be sure to let you know what the Court decides.
Corrupt Dodd Runs for the Exit-Will Not Seek Reelection
Last week, Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Dodd made headlines for being on Judicial Watch's list of Washington's "Ten Most Corrupt Politicians" for 2009. This week, Dodd was in the news for his shocking decision to abandon a bid for a sixth term in the U.S. Senate. "One down, nine to go" was the theme of more than a few emails I received noting Dodd's appearance on our Top Ten list and his retiring in disgrace. I'm proud of the important role Judicial Watch played in investigating, publicizing, and trying to prosecute Dodd's corruption.
According to CBS News:
Citing personal issues and his shaky political standing in Connecticut, Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd announced Wednesday he would not seek re-election this fall.
"I have never wavered in my determination to the best job...for our state," Dodd said, standing in front of his Connecticut home. "The past year has raised some challenges that insisted I take stock of my life..."
...The powerful senator's re-election chances became unsteady a couple years ago, when his polling numbers began to sink amid his bid for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, his connections to a controversial mortgage loan program and his high profile role as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
So let's take a minute to review exactly why Dodd was on such "shaky" ground.
First, as CBS News noted, there was that "controversial mortgage loan." Dodd was nabbed last year for accepting preferential treatment and loan terms from Countrywide Financial as a member of an exclusive program called "Friends of Angelo," named after Countrywide's CEO at the time, Angelo Martinez.
Dodd used the funds to refinance homes in Washington, D.C. and Connecticut. He admitted that he was told in 2003 when he refinanced two properties that he was being placed in Countrywide's "VIP Program," but said he had no idea he was receiving any special deals. However, Robert Feinberg, who worked in the Countrywide VIP program, told a different story in testimony before Congress. When asked directly whether Dodd was aware he was receiving special VIP treatment, Feinberg simply said, "Yes."
This scandal was particularly egregious given that Dodd chairs the Senate Banking Committee, which regulates the mortgage lending industry, including companies such as Countrywide. (Nonetheless, fellow politicians Senate Ethics Committee let Dodd off the hook.)
Of course, when it comes to Dodd corruption, Countrywide was just the tip of the iceberg.
Judicial Watch filed a Senate ethics complaint against Dodd last year for undervaluing a property he owns in Ireland on his Senate Financial Disclosure forms. Judicial Watch's complaint forced Dodd to amend the forms. However, press reports suggest the property to this day remains undervalued. Judicial Watch also alleges in the complaint that Dodd obtained a sweetheart deal for the property in exchange for his assistance in obtaining a presidential pardon (during the Clinton administration) and other favors for a long-time friend and business associate. We are still waiting for the Ethics Committee to act on our complaint.
Dodd also got into hot water for slipping a loophole into the stimulus bill that enabled insurance giant AIG to dole out $218 million in bonuses to executives using taxpayer funds. Why such generosity from the Connecticut Democrat? Dodd's previous political campaigns have benefitted to the tune of $238,418 in contributions from AIG employees and spouses. Dodd's wife, Jackie, by the way, once served on the board of an AIG company in Bermuda, further deepening the corrupt ties.
And, of course, Dodd led the campaign in the Senate to block attempts to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, all the while taking more money in campaign contributions from the two "Government-Sponsored Enterprises" than any other lawmaker.
According to a recent Judicial Watch-Survey USA national poll, 89% of likely voters believe corruption is a problem in the federal government, while 65% believe this problem is "very serious." Dodd caught a break from his Senate colleagues. The American people, however, have very little patience for corrupt politicians. Dodd knew it, which is why he'll be out of Congress after this current term. Good riddance.
You Can't Trust the ACLU
Surprise, surprise. The ACLU reneged on a promise it made to a California Superior Court and sought attorneys' fees related to a Judicial Watch "Special Order 40" lawsuit (Harold P. Sturgeon v. William J. Bratton, et al.). Thankfully, I just learned we beat their dishonest efforts back in court.
As you may recall, Judicial Watch filed a taxpayer lawsuit against the LAPD in an attempt to put a stop to "Special Order 40," a sanctuary policy for illegal aliens. ACLU lawyers voluntarily sought to intervene on behalf of illegal immigrants in the lawsuit on the side of the LAPD, which the court allowed because it found the lawsuit of "significant interest to many diverse organizations and individuals."
At the time of its intervention, the ACLU voluntarily agreed to waive any claim to attorneys' fees and costs. In fact, this is what the ACLU lawyer said during a September 20, 2006, hearing in the lawsuit: "Your Honor, if the attorneys' fees is the one issue that plaintiffs object to as enlarging the issue in this case, as I said, as far as the substantive issue, we're not enlarging any-if the fees are the contentious issue, we'd be willing to waive fees in this case."
And here's the Court's reply: "The court will permit the intervention, will deem the complaint in intervention to be filed and served as of today's date. We'll align the complaint in intervention on the defense side. The attorney's fees have been waived, the court orders the request for attorney's fees stricken."
As you can see, there is no ambiguity with respect to these fees. Nonetheless, the ACLU has changed its mind and is now mining for cash. Click here to read the motion we filed in court in response to the ACLU on December 23rd.
The good news is that the court ruled in our client's favor this morning and held the ACLU to its word. The ACLU must find another way to stop Judicial Watch from challenging illegal alien sanctuary policies in court. This was a transparent attempt to intimidate taxpayers who dare take on illegal government sanctuary policies in court. How hypocritical for this so-called civil rights organization!
(By the way, as you may recall, the California Court of Appeal ruled last summer that the Sturgeon lawsuit could not go to trial, prompting Judicial Watch to petition the California Supreme Court.)
In other Special Order 40-related news, Judicial Watch Director of Litigation Paul Orfanedes was in court yesterday for a California Court of Appeal hearing in our lawsuit filed on behalf of California taxpayer Rudy Moreno (Rudy Moreno v. William J. Bratton, et al.). Like the Sturgeon lawsuit, this one also targets Special Order 40. But the Moreno lawsuit focuses on a California statute related to the communication between the LAPD and federal immigration officials when an individual is arrested for various narcotics offenses. (As you may recall, we earned a huge victory in a lawsuit filed against the City of San Francisco Police Department seeking enforcement of the same law.)
As President Obama plans to push forward with amnesty for illegal aliens, as well as other measures that undermine law enforcement, Judicial Watch's nationwide campaign seeking to enforce our laws against illegal immigration has taken on greater importance. We expect contentious legal and investigatory battles in the coming months and could certainly use your ongoing support. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to Judicial Watch today to help us in our fight against illegal alien amnesty and for the rule of law.
Until next week...