Clinton not resigning just yet

Hillary Clinton won't leave the Senate until she's confirmed as secretary of state; meanwhile, the man responsible for choosing her successor isn't talking.

Published December 1, 2008 7:25PM (EST)

Hillary Clinton may have been formally introduced as President-elect Barack Obama's choice to be the next secretary of state on Monday, but she's still in no rush to leave her current job. Philippe Reines, a Clinton spokesman, told Politico's Ben Smith,"Senator Clinton intends to remain in office through confirmation."

At the same time, Smith notes, New York Gov. David Paterson -- who will be responsible for appointing Clinton's successor if and when she does resign from the Senate -- isn't giving any hints as to who might be his state's next senator. In a statement, Paterson said, “In order to appoint the best possible candidate to replace Senator Clinton, I am consulting with a wide variety of individuals from all across New York State. I expect to announce Senator Clinton’s replacement when the position becomes officially vacant.” (You can see a list of possibilities put together by Salon's Gabriel Winant here.)

There is still a question as to whether Clinton's appointment would even be constitutional. This is due to a provision of the Constitution that reads, "No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time." The salary of the secretary of state was increased during Clinton's time in the Senate, so that clause comes into play. This situation has come up before, however, and in those cases the constitutional issue was avoided by simply returning the salary in question to its previous level.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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