In November of 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament which set aside the largest part of his estate for the annual award of prizes. The Nobel Prizes.
The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way:
The capital shall be invested by my executors in safe securities and shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiological or medical works by Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm; and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting. It is my expressed wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration whatever shall be given to the nationality of the candidates, so that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not.
The Norwegian Storting is the Parliament of Norway. The Norwegian Storting elects who will serve on the committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize, therefore having a direct influence on the award of the final prize.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee sends out inquires to governments of states, members of international courts, professors and rectors at university level, former Peace Prize laureates, current or former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and others. The deadline for nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize is February 3.
So why am I discussing the Nobel Peace Prize? Well, as you may have heard, it was announced today that U.S. President Barack Obama is the recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Barack Obama was nominated sometime during the first 14 days of his presidency. Exactly what did he accomplish during those 14 days that was worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize?
Remember, Alfred Nobel’s will states that the Peace Prize will be award to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
Barack Obama did not abolish or reduce our standing armies, he did not hold or promote any peace congresses, and he sure as heck didn’t do the most or the best work for fraternity among nations. He had only been president for a handful of days before the nominations were closed.
Should someone receive the Nobel Peace Prize for ambition and rhetoric? Shouldn’t it be awarded to someone who actually met at least one of the requirements of the late Alfred Nobel?
According to the Parliament of Norway Wikipedia page.
The so-called Nobel Prize is a lifetime achievement award for promoting socialism.
I’m sure, based on his credentials and what we know of his past, Barack Obama has spent a lifetime promoting socialism, but what criteria was used by the committee in the nomination process?
That doesn’t really matter now though, does it, since they’ve already awarded him with the prize for this year. In fact, in remarks made today October 9, 2009, at 11:16am, President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.
To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.
There’s only one problem with his acceptance of the award. It violates the U.S. Constitution.
Article One, Section Nine of the United States Constitution reads,
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.
Because the Nobel Peace Prize Committee is elected by the government of Norway, and the prize is ultimately awarded because of those choices, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize can be considered a present or title from a foreign state.
President Obama, being a person who holds office, requires the consent of the Congress in order to accept any present or title of any kind, which, unless I am mistaken, never happened today. If you have a roll call vote from Congress giving the President the consent required to accept this title (and it’s accompanying gift of $1.57 million) please send me the link I would be very interested in seeing it.
Some may argue that this argument does not hold water, seeing that two other sitting Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, were also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and no one raised a stink about their acceptance of the award.
Just because someone else does something wrong, that doesn’t give you permission to do it as well. If the guy driving in front of you runs a red light and doesn’t get caught that doesn’t give you the right to follow his example without the possibility of repercussions. According to the Constitution, Barack Obama needed the consent of Congress to accept the award and he does not have that consent.
But now that he’s accepted the award (without the consent of Congress) he has announced he will donate the cash prize of 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.57 million) to charity.
Whoops. I hate to be a stickler here, but our former Constitutional Law Professor turned President cannot donate that money to charity either. It seems U.S. Code Title 5, Part III, Subpart F, Chapter 73, Subchapter IV, Section 7342 makes sure of that. The U.S. Code states,
(a) For the purpose of this section—
(1) “employee” means—
(E) the President and the Vice President;
(b) An employee may not—
(1) request or otherwise encourage the tender of a gift or decoration; or
(2) accept a gift or decoration, other than in accordance with the provisions of subsections (c) and (d).
(1) The Congress consents to—
(A) the accepting and retaining by an employee of a gift of minimal value tendered and received as a souvenir or mark of courtesy; and
(B) the accepting by an employee of a gift of more than minimal value when such gift is in the nature of an educational scholarship or medical treatment or when it appears that to refuse the gift would likely cause offense or embarrassment or otherwise adversely affect the foreign relations of the United States, except that—
(i) a tangible gift of more than minimal value is deemed to have been accepted on behalf of the United States and, upon acceptance, shall become the property of the United States; and
(ii) an employee may accept gifts of travel or expenses for travel taking place entirely outside the United States (such as transportation, food, and lodging) of more than minimal value if such acceptance is appropriate, consistent with the interests of the United States, and permitted by the employing agency and any regulations which may be prescribed by the employing agency.
(d) The Congress consents to the accepting, retaining, and wearing by an employee of a decoration tendered in recognition of active field service in time of combat operations or awarded for other outstanding or unusually meritorious performance, subject to the approval of the employing agency of such employee. Without this approval, the decoration is deemed to have been accepted on behalf of the United States, shall become the property of the United States, and shall be deposited by the employee, within sixty days of acceptance, with the employing agency for official use, for forwarding to the Administrator of General Services for disposal in accordance with subsection (e)(1), or for disposal in accordance with subsection (e)(2).
In summary, according to the U.S. Constitution and adhering to the laws of the United States as defined in the U.S. Code, a sitting U.S. President, whether he/she is Barack Obama or otherwise, cannot accept the Nobel Peace Prize without the consent of Congress and any cash award or gift must be turned over as property of the United States and deposited for official use.
Barack Obama violated the U.S. Constitution when he did not have the consent of Congress before he announced that he would accept the award, and he will clearly be violating U.S. Code if he follows through and donates the cash award to charity.