UNDERSTANDING THE FOREIGN EMOLUMENTS CLAUSE

US Constitution

By: Akanksha A. Panicker

The Foreign Emoluments Clause is a provision in Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution of the United States which generally forbids the awarding of titles of nobility by the federal government and prevents members of the federal government from accepting presents, emoluments, offices or titles from foreign states and monarchies without the approval of the United States Congress. 

Federal officeholders are prohibited from receiving anything of value from a foreign state or its representatives. Additionally, the domestic emoluments clause also prohibits the president from receiving any such emolument from the federal government or the states beyond the normal compensation for the services entitled to the Chief Executive.  The main driving force behind the clause is to prevent influence, even unconscious, in the treatment meted out by individuals holding office. Consequently, gift-giving would not further corrupt practices, even if not intended to do so. Often recognized as the Titles of Nobility Provision, which was intended to safeguard U.S. federal authorities from so-called ‘corrupting foreign powers,’ the rule is strengthened by the directly related ban on state titles of nobility in Article I, Section 10, and, more broadly, by the Republican Guarantee Clause in Article IV, Section 4.

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