The following is a guest post by
intern Will Oremus.
When Rep. Anthony Weiner married Huma Abedin last year, thewedding was officiated by a man with some sex scandal experience of his own:Bill Clinton. Leaving aside the seemliness of the couple's choice, what gaveClintona former president of no particular religious stature the authority tomarry the couple? Do former presidents automatically have the power to presideover weddings?
No state law allows certain officials as well as members of the clergy, regardless ofdenomination to perform nuptial ceremonies. Said law explicitly names formermayors of major New York cities, former city clerks, and retired judges amongthose legally empowered to tie knots, but makes no mention of former presidents suggestingthat Clinton would have had to receive some kind of special authorization toperform a legally-binding ceremony. It's unclear exactly what Clinton did toensure that he could marry Weiner and Abedin, but his spokesman at the time assuredthe AP that theformer president's credentials were, well, unimpeachable .or at least, they don't in New York. The rules on who canand who can't solemnize a marriage vary from state to state. Weiner and Abedinheld their wedding in Huntington, N.Y., where
Former presidents are given no special legal privileges inthe Constitution, though some have tried over the years to assert themnonetheless. (President Nixon, for instance, sought to keep the White Housetapes under wraps after leaving office, citing executive privilege.) By custom,former presidents are offered intelligence briefings and security details notafforded to private citizens. But no legal scholar that Slate reached was awareof a statute giving presidentsformer or sitting the power to performmarriages.
TODAY IN SLATE
Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison
In much of America, beating your children is perfectly legal.
Ken Burns on Why Teddy Roosevelt Would Never Get Elected in 2014
Cops Briefly Detain Django Unchained Actress Because They Thought She Was a Prostitute
Minimalist Cocktail Posters Make Mixing Drinks a Cinch
How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us
A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest of jewels.
Rainbow Parties and Sex Bracelets
Where teenage sex rumors come from—and why they’re bad for parents and kids.
You Had to Be There
What we can learn from things that used to be funny.