Constitution of the United States/Art. II/Sec. 1/Clause 7 Compensation and Emoluments

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Constitutional Law Treatise
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Constitutional Law Outline
Introduction
The Preamble
Article I Legislative Branch
Art. I, Section 1 Legislative Vesting Clause
Art. I, Section 2 House of Representatives
Art. I, Section 3 Senate
Art. I, Section 4 Congress
Art. I, Section 5 Proceedings
Art. I, Section 6 Rights and Disabilities
Art. I, Section 7 Legislation
Art. I, Section 8 Enumerated Powers
Art. I, Section 9 Powers Denied Congress
Art. I, Section 10 Powers Denied States
Article II Executive Branch
Art. II, Section 1 Function and Selection
Art. II, Section 2 Powers
Art. II, Section 3 Duties
Art. II, Section 4 Impeachment
Article III Judicial Branch
Art. III, Section 1 Vesting Clause
Art. III, Section 2 Justiciability
Art. III, Section 3 Treason
Article IV Relationships Between the States
Art. IV, Section 1 Full Faith and Credit Clause
Art. IV, Section 2 Interstate Comity
Art. IV, Section 3 New States and Federal Property
Art. IV, Section 4 Republican Form of Government
Article V Amending the Constitution
Article VI Supreme Law
Article VII Ratification
First Amendment: Fundamental Freedoms
Religion
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Free Speech Clause
Freedom of Association
Second Amendment: Right to Bear Arms
Third Amendment: Quartering Soldiers
Fourth Amendment: Searches and Seizures
Fifth Amendment: Rights of Persons
Sixth Amendment: Rights in Criminal Prosecutions
Seventh Amendment: Civil Trial Rights
Eighth Amendment: Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Ninth Amendment: Unenumerated Rights
Tenth Amendment: Rights Reserved to the States and the People
Eleventh Amendment: Suits Against States
Twelfth Amendment: Election of President
Thirteenth Amendment: Abolition of Slavery
Thirteenth Amend., Section 1 Prohibition on Slavery and Involuntary Servitude
Thirteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Fourteenth Amendment: Equal Protection and Other Rights
Fourteenth Amend., Section 1 Rights
Fourteenth Amend., Section 2 Apportionment of Representation
Fourteenth Amend., Section 3 Disqualification from Holding Office
Fourteenth Amend., Section 4 Public Debt
Fourteenth Amend., Section 5 Enforcement
Fifteenth Amendment: Right of Citizens to Vote
Fifteenth Amend., Section 1 Right to Vote
Fifteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Sixteenth Amendment: Income Tax
Seventeenth Amendment: Popular Election of Senators
Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition of Liquor
Eighteenth Amend., Section 1 Prohibition
Eighteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement of Prohibition
Eighteenth Amend., Section 3 Ratification Deadline
Nineteenth Amendment: Women's Suffrage
Twentieth Amendment: Presidential Term and Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 1 Terms
Twentieth Amend., Section 2 Meetings of Congress
Twentieth Amend., Section 3 Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 4 Congress and Presidential Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 5 Effective Date
Twentieth Amend., Section 6 Ratification
Twenty-First Amendment: Repeal of Prohibition
Twenty-First Amend., Section 1 Repeal of Eighteenth Amendment
Twenty-First Amend., Section 2 Importation, Transportation, and Sale of Liquor
Twenty-First Amend., Section 3 Ratification Deadline
Twenty-Second Amendment: Presidential Term Limits
Twenty-Second Amend., Section 1 Limit
Twenty-Second Amend., Section 2 Ratification Deadline
Twenty-Third Amendment: District of Columbia Electors
Twenty-Third Amend., Section 1 Electors
Twenty-Third Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Fourth Amendment: Abolition of Poll Tax
Twenty-Fourth Amend., Section 1 Poll Tax
Twenty-Fourth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 1 Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 2 Vice President Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 3 Declaration by President
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 4 Declaration by Vice President and Others
Twenty-Sixth Amendment: Reduction of Voting Age
Twenty-Sixth Amend., Section 1 Eighteen Years of Age
Twenty-Sixth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Seventh Amendment: Congressional Compensation

Article II Executive Branch

Section 1 Function and Selection

Clause 7 Compensation and Emoluments

Clause Text
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Emoluments Clause and Presidential Compensation[edit | edit source]

To preserve the President's independence from Congress and state governments, Article II, Section 1, Clause 7 provides that Congress may not increase or decrease the President's compensation during his term in office and further bars the President from receiving "any other Emolument [beyond a fixed salary] from the United States, or any of them."[1] Consequently, Congress cannot use its control over the President's salary to influence him; the provision accordingly reinforces the separation of powers. As Justice Joseph Story observed in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, "[a] control over a man's living is in most cases a control over his actions."[2] The Domestic Emoluments Clause--unlike the Foreign Emoluments Clause[3]--does not allow Congress to assent to the President receiving otherwise prohibited emoluments from the state or federal governments.

Modeled after similar provisions in state constitutions,[4] the Domestic Emoluments Clause received little attention at the Constitutional Convention.[5] In the Federalist No. 73, however, Alexander Hamilton explained that the Domestic Emoluments Clause was intended to isolate the President from potentially corrupting congressional influence. Because the President's salary is fixed "once for all" each term, Hamilton commented, Congress "can neither weaken his fortitude by operating on his necessities, nor corrupt his integrity by appealing to his avarice."[6] Similarly, Hamilton explained that because "[n]either the Union, nor any of its members, will be at liberty to give . . . any other emolument," the President will "have no pecuniary inducement to renounce or desert the independence intended for him by the Constitution."[7] Other Framers echoed this sentiment during the ratification debates.[8]

The Domestic Emoluments Clause has been rarely analyzed or interpreted by courts during its history.[9] During the administration of President Donald Trump, several litigants alleged that President Trump's retention of certain business and financial interests violated the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses, but the Supreme Court ultimately found these cases moot without addressing their merits.[10]

  1. Art. II, Sec. 1, Clause 7 Compensation and Emoluments.
  2. 3 Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States § 1480 (1833).
  3. See Art. I, Sec. 9, Clause 8 Titles of Nobility and Foreign Emoluments; see Art. I, Sec. 9, Cl. 8: Overview of Titles of Nobility and Foreign Emoluments Clauses.
  4. See, e.g., Mass Const. of 1780, pt. II, ch. II, § 1, art. XIII ("As the public good requires that the governor should not be under the undue influence . . . it is necessary that he should have an honorable stated salary, of a fixed and permanent value . . . ."); Md. Const. of 1776, art. XXXII ("That no person ought to hold, at the same time, more shall one office of profit, nor ought any person in public trust, to receive any present from any foreign prince or state, or from the United States, or any of them, without the approbation of this State.").
  5. Early in the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin proposed that the President should receive no compensation at all; this motion was politely postponed "with great respect, but rather for the author of it than from any apparent conviction of its expediency or practicability." 1 Records of the Federal Convention 81-85 (Max Farrand ed., 1911) (Madison's notes) [hereinafter Farrand's Records]. The Convention unanimously agreed to the fixed salary provision for the President on July 20, 1787. 2 Farrand's Records, supra, at 69. On September 15, 1787, Franklin and John Rutledge moved to bar the President from receiving "any other emolument" from the federal or state governments, which the Convention approved by a 7-4 vote without noted debate. 2 Farrand's Records, supra, at 626.
  6. The Federalist No. 73 (Alexander Hamilton).
  7. Id.
  8. See, e.g., 2 The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution 446 (Jonathan Elliot ed., 1836) (statement of James Wilson) ("[The Domestic Emoluments Clause was designed] to secure the President from any dependence upon the legislature as to his salary.").
  9. See generally Michael A. Foster & Kevin J. Hickey, Cong. Rsch. Serv., R45992, The Emoluments Clauses and the Presidency: Background and Recent Developments (2019), [1]. The few judicial or executive decisions on the Domestic Emoluments Clause include Griffin v. United States, 935 F. Supp. 1, 3-6 (D.D.C. 1995); Nixon v. Sampson, 389 F. Supp. 107, 136-37 (D.D.C. 1975); and President Reagan's Ability to Receive Retirement Benefits from the State of California, 5 Op. O.L.C. 187 (1981).
  10. For an overview of that litigation, see Art. I, Sec. 9, Cl. 8: Foreign Emoluments Clause Generally.