A Candidate For Legal Word Of The Year – Emolument

The Oxford English Dictionary has already selected its word of the year – post-truth is the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016.  I think they may have wished that they waited a bit longer before putting the title sash around that word.  This month’s U. S. elections have brought to prominence in media circles a number of not necessarily new, but interesting, words.

My candidate for the most au courant legal word would be emolument as in the Emoluments Clause, in the U. S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9, Clause 8:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

The word is not a new, fashionable word but in the category of vintage, as it was already well established in the English language during the years when the United States was being formed as a country.  This term has recently become newsworthy as a constitutional law issue because the current President-Elect has many business dealings in and with foreign states.  So far, President-Elect Donald Trump has not stated that he will continue the past U.S. Presidential tradition of moving his financial assets into a blind trust therefore removing any conflicts of interest.

How newsworthy is emolument?  The Emolument Clause has its own Twitter page – #EmolumentsClause.  There have been a number of media articles discussing the legal issues concerning the concept for public office holders.  For general background, here are some links to internet articles.

From a law review,  here is a cite to an article discussing the background, as well as, the history of legal scholarship on the subject  –

More information available on Westlaw at ACLL

  • American Jurisprudence, 63C Am. Jur. 2d Public Officers and Employees § 22, “Lucrative offices; offices of profit or emolument”

Filing of lawsuit after Trump took office (added January 24, 2017)

With so many surprising developments in U. S. politics in recent weeks and with continuing original interpretations of standards for holding political offices in our country being put forth, maybe next year will be emolument’s year.  Let see what the polls are predicting.

7/2018  https://reason.com/volokh/2018/07/25/dcmd-suit-against-trump-over-emoluments


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