Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nobel Prize For Obama Unconstitutional?


The New York Sun (October 18, 2009) printed this editorial:
Apart from the question of whether President Obama deserves the Nobel Prize — a matter that we’ve suggested is the purview of the Norwegians — the newspapers are starting to crackle with the question of whether the Constitution permits Mr. Obama to accept it. The Nobel, after all, is worth more than $1 million, and Article I, Second 9 of the United States Constitution states in plain language that “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States” and that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign state.”

Josh Gerstein, formerly national correspondent of the Sun, reports on Politico that the White House is rejecting as “flat out wrong” the notion that the Nobel Prize would be covered by the proscriptions in the Constitution. “The Constitution talks about kings and princes and foreign states,” Mr. Gerstein quotes a White House aide as asserting. “Here, Alfred Nobel, a private citizen, set up a private foundation — the Nobel Foundation — that awards the money.” The aide wouldn’t be named, Mr. Gerstein said, quoting him as also pointing out that Mr. Obama “has already indicated that he does not intend to keep the money.”

The anonymous comment from the White House followed the publication by the Washington Post of an op-ed article by a law professor from Chapman University, Ron Rotunda, and a fellow of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Peter Pham, arguing that the constitutional provision in Article I, Second 9 would preclude Mr. Obama accepting the prize. They argued that Congress should take Mr. Obama “at his word that the Nobel award is ‘an affirmation of American leadership’” and allow the president to accept the prize but that Congress should apply the money itself to “some worthy cause, such as reducing the deficit.”

Mr. Gerstein sprang on the issue on the day the prize was announced, as did J.P. Freire, associate commentary editor of the Washington Examiner. Mr. Freire quoted Title 5 of the United States code, under which Congress has laid down the law on gifts that can be accepted by a federal employee. It provides congressional consent to gifts in certain situations but sets a limit that, at the moment, is, according to the Justice Department Web site, $335. The law covers both the president and vice president as well as all other federal employees, including congressmen. So even were the Constitutional question to be vague, the statute seems to be clear. President Washington was such a stickler on the constitutional point that he refused to accept so much as a flag from the government of France without stating that he would announce the matter to the Congress and declaring that the colors would be placed in the national archive.

Interesting argument.
It doesn't matter that Barry O. plans to "give the money away" - Constitutionally and or legally it can be argued that he cannot accept it - or at least he can only accept $335 of it. Well sure, they may try to weasel this and say it's from a private organization... but honestly... the statute is plain in how much he can receive as a gift.

Then of course there are the tax implications of accepting this $1.4 million windfall.
Barry O. may need Turbo Tax Timmy's help in getting out of paying his share to the US Treasury. (read the comments to that link - some are pretty funny)

Then on the other hand the Nobel committee can just write the check out to ACORN and Barry can avoid the whole tax issue all together.

Hey, with the price of gold where it is - Obama can just as well cash in his Peace Medallion by sending it along to Cash4Gold.

So many options.


The Nobel Peace Prize goes to:
during the preceding year [...] shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.

Not bad for a guy who is escalating troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

(H/T Ricky G.)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Giving Obama the Nobel Prize may not be a good thing, but it is certainly a constitutional thing.

Teddy Roosevelt was the first US president to receive the Nobel Peace Prize while he was in office. He accepted it. Woodrow Wilson was the second to receive it, and he accepted it too.

Judy Aron said...

Just because other presidents may have accepted the Nobel - most likely unconstitutionally - doesn't mean others should.

Should we break the law because other people do?

There is also a stated limit to the amount of a gift that the president can receive - he is violating that statute. period.

Brandon7221 said...

Great piece. I wrote about the background of the Nobel selection commitee and their bias, but I neglected this angle.

Good stuff