The Corner

Does He Have to Ask Congress for Permission?

A lawyer e-mails:

1.  Under Article I, section 9 of the Constitution, “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust [in the United States government] shall, without the consent of Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”


2.  Under this provision, it seems that President Obama would need the consent of Congress to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.  That prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which consists of five members elected by the Norwegian parliament and is thus an agent of a “foreign State.”


3.  Congress’s existing blanket consent, set forth in the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, does not seem broad enough to apply to the cash component of the prize, though it probably would apply to the gold medal that is awarded. 

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