Federal Judge: 'Emoluments' Case May Proceed
Emolument once again found itself as one of our top lookups on July 25th, 2018, after a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit alleging President Trump is violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution may proceed.
The next unsettled questions: What, exactly is an emolument?
That was a question that remained unanswered for more than 200 years.
The Constitution bars federal officials from taking emoluments from any “King, Prince, or Foreign State.” The Founding Fathers’ intent had been to stop U.S. ambassadors overseas — emissaries from a new, poor, fragile country — from being bought off by jewels or payments from wealthy European states.
— Ann E. Marimow, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post, 25 Jul. 2018
Emolument, in use in English since the late 15th century, may be traced to the Latin word molere, meaning "to grind." While the word has an archaic sense meaning simply "advantage," the more common sense in current use is "the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites."
Then angry Juno, This no farther move,
Peculiar Gifts long since were past by Jove·
Perquisits, Fees, and their Emoluments,
And ratified with all the Gods consents.
— John Ogilby, Aesopicks: or, A Second Collection of Fables, Paraphras'd in Verse, 1675