Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Clintons and Separation of Power

If Senator Clinton becomes President, and Bill Clinton is nominated to fill her vacated Senate seat, would there be a separation of powers issue? Ref Marriage is something the courts cannot compel either spouse to violate.

The issue is not whether Senator Clinton is or is not qualified to be President, but whether the legislation and statutes will fully support the full spectrum of legal and Constutitonal issues, while respecting their spousal loyalties.

The answer is not to say, "That is why a Senator cannot be President; or why this cannot work," but the opposite: To streamline the rules, and ensure the legislation will fully support what is possible while respecting the Separaton of Powers.

* * *

Consider the possibility: President Hillary Clinton, protected by the spousal-protection, engages in a private conversation with her husband, who just happens to be in a Separate Branch of government in the Legislature.

___ Is there a potential conflict of interest?

___ Would Senator Bill Clinton and President Hillary Clinton enjoy a right of privacy; then be expected not to use information they gleaned from the Separate Branch?

___ What are the lessons from the legal community when one spouse has a client; and the other spouse has an adversarial Client?

___ Is a Senator expected to recuse themselves should their spouse be brought before the Senate during an impeachment?

___ Does the Senate rule related to confidentiality of all executive sessions apply to a Spouse?

___ If a Senator discusses confidential information with their Spouse who happens to be President, is the President obligated to keep that information confidential; or do they have a superior duty as President to take action?

___ What about issues of Executive Privilege, state secrets, and other things a Spouse might not be able to discuss; but with a properly cleared Senator the issues would permissible?

___ Is there the possibility that a formal notification required by the President to the Senate leadership may or may not get the attention it is needed?

* * *

It does raise some interesting issues: Because, as a spouse, both of the Clintons would enjoy legal protection to keep the conversations between them private.

We would have to examine:

___ To what extent would the Separation of Power-doctrine be violated, if at all?

___ Would there be some issues which, as President, Hillary Clinton would be expected to openly make available for public review?

___ When would a private discussion between the Clintons trigger a "meeting requirement" which Hillary Clinton, as First Lady, was questioned when involved with the Healtcare issues?

* * *

I'm sure the CLintons have thought about the legal issues. The question is whether the Country is prepared to confront the Separations of Power issue.

Perhaps the Clintons, enjoying a private conversation, would be required to submit in writing a conference report to the Senate Ethics Committee and Executive Branch Ethics Office. [/snark]

Perhaps it might be prudent to pass legislation now that would clarify the rules related to spouse employment, travel costs, and other things.

___ Who pays the per diem costs if Senator Bill Clinton, traveling with his President-Spouse HIllary Clinton, finds himself sick in an overseas country: The State Department Account; the Senate Account; DoD; or would it come out of the White Houset medical fund?

The way forward would be to formalize the rules now, and make them easy to work with, while respecting the Clinton's privacy; while also meeting the appropriate disclosure and reporting requirements expected of any President.\

I encourage all Members of Congress and the President to jointly work together to pass legislation that will make the rules related to Presidential-Member of Congress joint-spouse assignments one that honors the rightful place Presidents and the Spouses have to privacy; while respecting the needed oversight, reporting, and statutory compliance requirements.

The way forward is to clarify the issues now, and leave the rules open so that as unforsee situations arise, they may be timely resolved with discretion, as opposed to becoming a needless distraction for the Head of State and her Spouse in the Senate.

* * *

Yet, rather than focus on what problem their might be with the Clintons, the best energy is to focus on the Separation of Power this President abused, regardless what standards he may or may not have been ignoring.

Today's problem is whether this President does or does not assent to the Constitution and Geneva Conventions. America will be lucky the day the scope of a usurpation of power is whether a President does or doesn't have a private conversation with her Spouse.

Which GOP Member of Congress or lobbyists are going to demand a front row seat in the White House bedroom to conduct oversight? Should we be so lucky when the extent of a President's ethics problem are whether she does or does not dare to consult her spouse, and the dark days of Bush war crimes is sideshow litigation at The Hague.

Regardless whether Senate Clinton does or does not become President, Congress has fair warning that there may be some legal issues which might be proactively handled going forward, as opposed to waiting until after the fact.

I urge the Congress and Executive Branch to review this issue with seriousness and make appropriate recommendations for legislation that would be ready well before Senator Clinton might become President; or President Clinton might become a Senator.

Thank you for considering my concerns.