Sex-neutral "he": the constitutional question

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Geoff Pullum has argued in a number of posts that English he can't be a sex-neutral pronoun (e.g. "Lying feminist ideologues wreck English, says Yale prof", 3/2/2008). This question has recently taken on new practical significance, according to an article in the Reno Gazette-Journal by Anjeanette Damon ("Lawsuit: Woman can't be president", 4/9/2008):

In a lawsuit that legal scholars call "amusing," a Reno man is seeking to keep U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton off the Nevada ballot with the argument that the U.S. Constitution prohibits a woman from holding the office.

Douglas Wallace, 80, contends that because the U.S. Constitution relies on the pronouns "he" and "his" in describing the duties of the president, no woman can hold the office.

Wallace argues the constitution would have to be amended to specifically allow a female president and accused Clinton of trying to make an "end run around the Constitution."

"The use of female gendered pronouns 'she' or 'her' are not present in the document, making it conclusive that the framers never intended that a woman would be president of the United States," Wallace wrote in the lawsuit.

That would be Article 2, and here's a sample of the relevant pronoun use:

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows […]

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them. […]

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation […]

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

And so on.

As I understand things, the lawsuit has no chance of success, for reasons that have nothing to do with the intentions of the framers, nor with their understanding of English pronouns.

[Update — more here.]

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