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.
- Article from New York Times – “Donald Trump’s Business Dealings Test a Constitutional Limit” (subscription required)
- Post from Calbuzz political blog (opinion piece) – “Herr Trump’s Conflicts of Interest Already Starting“
- Article from the Washington Post’s website – “Fact Checker: Trump’s Claim That ‘The President Can’t Have a Conflict of Interest.'”
- CRS Reports & Analysis, Legal Sidebar, “Conflicts of Interest and the Presidency“
- ABA Journal.com – “Is Donald Trump About to Violate Constitution’s Emoluments Clause?”
- Pro Publica – “Trump Would Be Violating the Constitution If He Continues to Own His Businesses“
- Podcast from NPR’s Fresh Air – “Journalist On Trump’s Potential Conflicts Of Interest: ‘They’re Everywhere’”
- ProPublica – “Emoluments Clause – Overturning 185 Years of Precedent…“
- Brookings Institute – “The Emoluments Clause: Its Text, Meaning, and Application to Donald J. Trump.”
- Bloomberg – “Trump’s Family Business Gets Two New Ethics Overseers“
- Grewal, Andy – “The Foreign Emoluments Clause and the Chief Executive” U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-12 https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers2.cfm?abstract_id=2902391
- Brody, Ben and Bob Van Voris, “Why ‘Emoluments’ Might Mean Headaches for Trump: QuickTake Q & A.”
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 –
- Available on HeinOnline at ACLL.
- Robert G. Natelson, The Original Meaning of ‘Emoluments’ in the Constitution https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2911871 Georgia Law Review, Vol. 52, No. 1, 2017
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)
- Complaint for case filed on this issue – Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Trump, USDC SDNY, 17-cv-00458-RA complaint-citizens-for-responsibility-and-ethics-in-washington-v-trump-usdc-sdny-00458
- “Liberal Lawyers Will Loose Suit Against Trump; Constitution Does Not Ban Him from White House.”
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.