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I saw this tweet today for an event headlined by "The Honorable Jared Kushner."

https://twitter.com/meridithmcgraw/status/1569300032389619714

Kushner, a former senior advisor to Donald Trump, is being lampooned in the replies for insisting on a title that's usually reserved for judges and congressmen. I was wondering, is Kushner following precedent here, or are the critics correct that this seems to be a new practice that Kushner is adopting?

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    Rather doubtful title, given the precedents: "For Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men" Sep 13 at 7:57

2 Answers 2

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According to the State Department's protocol office, "the Honorable" accrues to

government officials who have been elected to public office or are appointed by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate.

They list several such offices, which do not include "Senior Advisor to the President," an office that does not require Senate confirmation:

These positions include, but are not limited to, the President, Vice President, members of the Cabinet, Assistants to the President, Deputy Assistants to the President, Special Assistants to the President, deputy and under secretaries of executive departments, assistant secretaries, American ambassadors, governors, and mayors.

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    @JoeW In American political etiquette it is proper to address anyone who once held a position with a title by that title regardless of whether or not they still occupy that office UNLESS they occupy a new, higher office. So it would be proper to refer to Trump as President Trump or Mr. President even though he is no longer in office. "Honorable" is still a relevant title for Jarred Kushner. Likewise, during the 2016 debates, Hilary Clinton was addressed as "Secretary Clinton" or "Madam Secretary" despite not having had the position for 4 years by that point.
    – hszmv
    Sep 12 at 19:27
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    @hszmv And generally those titles are held by people who are elected or confirmed to a position not someone who was just appointed to a position by their father in law. The question I have is how does this guidance apply to an appointed position that has no one confirming it.
    – Joe W
    Sep 12 at 19:34
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    @hszmv You should post that as an answer with evidence to back it up. I was asking for clarification on a users answer to see if it had any details about that type of position and title. I am well aware of the tradition of calling someone by the title from the highest office they have held but I have never heard it being applied to someone who wasn't elected or confirmed to that office.
    – Joe W
    Sep 12 at 19:52
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    @hszmv I believe Joe W's point here is that Kushner never held a position for which the "honorable" courtesy title applied, according to American practice; not that he once did and it no longer applies. Sep 12 at 22:49
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    This seems like 1/2 of the answer (which is fine) -- it can be done. The other 1/2 is whether it's common. "The Honorable Henry Kissinger" and "Honorable Pete Buttigieg" get hits, so maybe it is common. Sep 13 at 1:24
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He has been referred to as such in the past, including in documents issued by the state department. For example he is referred to as "honorable" in this state department release: Office of the Chief of Protocol; Gifts to Federal Employees From Foreign Government Sources Reported to Employing Agencies in Calendar Year 2019

The US Chamber of Commerce also used that title in a letter to Larry Kudlow and Kushner (and also gave it to Larry Kudlow, who also was never a congressman or judge or in a position that required confirmation).

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    The US Chamber of Commerce is a private organisation - they can call Jared Kushner whatever they want to call him, within the bounds of the first amendment.
    – kaya3
    Sep 13 at 14:17
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    @kaya3, Kushner is (now) a private citizen not in service to the government. He can ask or even insist on being called whatever he wants. It's not a 1A question, it's a protocol question. Kushner and the US Chamber of Commerce both seem not to be following the (U.S.-)standard protocol for use of the honorific in question. Sep 13 at 16:10
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    @JohnBollinger Sure, I only mentioned the first amendment to qualify that they can't call him a murderer or a child molester, for example. My point is only that the US Chamber of Commerce is not an official state body and they aren't bound by such protocols, so what they call Jared Kushner is not really relevant to this question. I think this is worth pointing out, because the US Chamber of Commerce likes to make themselves look like a government body rather than a private sector lobbying group, so a lot of people don't realise this.
    – kaya3
    Sep 13 at 16:16
  • It is not common for political advisors, such as a president's press secretary, to get called anything but Mr. or Mrs./Ms. Some organizations suck up to power-adjacent crooks by attaching meaningless titles like "honorable" to their names. As pointed out in comments, you can try to be called whatever you want. Some attach "Esquire" to their names; lawyers in the U.S. especially. It's just a title for a man with no title who want to sound noble without having nobility.
    – user8356
    Sep 13 at 21:52

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