There is a long history of controversy and litigation regarding the provision in the U.S. Constitution prohibiting members of Congress from subsequently attaining to federal offices offering increased monetary compensation due to the largess of the Congress in which they sat. The most recent example is that of Hillary Clinton who has been nominated to the office of Secretary of State. In Clinton’s case the salary for the position was increased, not by Congress, but via an executive order by President Bush as a COL increase. In any event the Constitutional provision comes in to play: (CNS reports)
The question of eligibility arises from Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution. It says that no member of Congress can be appointed to a civil office that benefited from a salary increase during the time that House or Senate member served. On Jan. 4, 2008, President Bush signed an executive order raising the salaries of cabinet secretaries from $186,600 to $191,300, a cost of living adjustment….
The Senate’s senior member and staunchest constitutional advocate on the Democratic side of the aisle, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, is exploring whether Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) is eligible to become secretary of state in the Obama administration. (CNS reporting again)
Now Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) has a long history in the Senate and consequently a long history in looking at this particular issue. In speaking of a 1973 case during the Nixon administration when there was a circumvention of the Constitution by lowering the salary in question, Byrd said:
(The Constitution) “is so clear it can’t be waived…In my judgment, the bill itself shouldn’t be passed. We should not delude the American people into thinking a way can be found around the constitutional obstacle.”
From a Washington Post story at the time via CNS
One wonders if the distinguished Senator from West Viginia will be as diligent in his constitutional fervor when it comes to the issue of Obama’s eligibility.