Constitutional FAQ Answer #151 – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

Constitutional FAQ Answer #151

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Q151. “Rudy Giuliani seems to be running for
President in 2008. But in 2002, Giuliani was given an honorary knighthood by
Elizabeth II. I’m wondering if this would place a restriction upon his

A. The relevant part of the Constitution is Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8, which states: “No
Person holding any Office … shall, without the Consent of the Congress,
accept of any … Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign
State.” Basically, no one in the government is to take any present, gift, or
title from any foreign power.

The first issue is that Giuliani is not a part of the U.S. government
— and the Emoluments Clause is pretty clear that it applies to current
employees of the government. The Plain Meaning test would probably let Giuliani
slide by if he had a title; but a sitting President would be barred from
accepting the title.

However, the Emoluments Clause does have a caveat — the acceptance can
be authorized by Congress, and Congress has done just that. In 5 USC 7342,
Congress authorized the acceptance of “order[s], device[s], … [or] award[s]”
from foreign governments, so long as they are authorized by the employee’s
department and are of minimal real value. In this code, the President, Vice
President, and all members of Congress are considered employees, as are spouses
and soldiers.

Generally, titles bestowed upon foreign governments are honorary only,
especially within the United States. Many people in government and in private
life have been given titles, such as Bill Gates, Ronald Reagan, George H.W.
Bush, Norman Schwartzkopf, Wesley Clark, Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope, Collin Powell,
Tom Foley, and Charlton Heston.

Last Modified: 16 Aug 2010

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