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Does Obama Need Congress' Permission to Get Nobel?

Friday, October 30, 2009

By Angie Drobnic Holan

Three Republican members of Congress wrote President Barack Obama a letter telling him he needs to "obtain Congress' consent before formally accepting the Nobel Prize."

The members — Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite and Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas — point to Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, which reads, in part:

"No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."

In their letter, they write, "As the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee appointed by the Parliament of Norway, the Storting, the prize is clearly subject to the requirements set forth in Article 1, Section 9, of the Constitution. Obtaining permission from Congress should be straightforward."

They said the precedent was set when President Theodore Roosevelt created a committee to hold his prize money and then obtained the consent of Congress to send the money to various charities. Roosevelt received the prize in 1906 for mediating a peace agreement between Russia and Japan.

We wanted to know if the representatives were correct that Obama has to obtain the permission of Congress before accepting the prize, which he was awarded for his diplomatic efforts on international cooperation and nuclear disarmament.

We went down many avenues of research here.

The Nobel Peace Prize includes a cash gift of about $1.4 million, so that seems to fit the definition of a "present." The Republican members are also correct that the members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee are appointed by the Norwegian parliament, the Storting....(Remainder.)



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