Appeals Court Throws Out Democrats’ Emoluments Lawsuit Against Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles while speaking during a rally in San
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

A federal appeals court on Friday morning tossed a lawsuit brought by congressional Democrats alleging that President Donald Trump violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by using the White House to profit from the presidency.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in a 12-page decision that Democrat lawmakers behind the suit lack the standing required to sue.

“The Members can, and likely will, continue to use their weighty voices to make their case to the American people, their colleagues in the Congress and the President himself, all of whom are free to engage that argument as they see fit,” the decision reads. “But we will not—indeed we cannot—participate in this debate. The Constitution permits the Judiciary to speak only in the context of an Article III case or controversy and this lawsuit presents neither.”

The clause prohibits federal officials from receiving payments from foreign governments without Congressional approval. President Trump relinquished control over the Trump Organization, which includes his portfolio of hotels and golf clubs, to his children Donald Jr. and Eric Trump. The president still has ownership over the group of nearly 500 business entities.

“I’ll be reading it on the helicopter, but it was a total win,” the president told reporters of the decision on the White House lawn.

The development comes after the panel of three judges expressed doubt in December as to whether individual members of Congress could bring the suit, rather than Congress.

“You are not here representing Congress.” Judge Thomas Griffith remarked to an attorney representing the over 200 lawmakers at the time.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is considering an emoluments suit against the president by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) and Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine (D). The progressive group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) had its emolument case revived by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in September.

The decision marks another victory this week for President Trump, who is fresh off being acquitted in the Senate impeachment trial and a State of the Union address that received rave reviews. Earlier Monday, the Department of Labor announced that the U.S. economy added 225,000 jobs in January, smashing expectations of 158,000 jobs.


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