4th Circuit Rules Against Trump in Emoluments Clause Case

May 14, 2020 by Dan McCue
The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court ruled against President Donald Trump on Thursday in a lawsuit alleging he’s violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by profiting from foreign and state government patrons at his hotel in downtown Washington.

A divided 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed by the attorneys general from the District of Columbia and Maryland.

Writing for the majority in the 9-6 ruling, U.S. Circuit Judge Diana Motz said, “We recognize that the president is no ordinary petitioner, and we accord him great deference as the Executive branch.”

Nevertheless she continued, a majority of the appellate judges could not bring themselves to “grant the extraordinary relief the president seeks.”

Thursday’s ruling conflicts with a ruling handed down in March by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in a separate case, which barred individual members of Congress from suing the president over his private business.

After that ruling, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., the plaintiffs in the case, decided not to request a rehearing by the full appeals court.

However, the split between the circuits very well could lead the Supreme Court to step in to decide the matter once and for all.

In the meantime, the case will return to a judge in Maryland, who has consistently ruled against Trump on preliminary legal questions, for further proceedings.

Trump opened the Trump International Hotel, on Pennsylvania Avenue just blocks from the White House, shortly before he was elected in November 2016. Unlike past presidents, he has retained ownership of numerous business interests, including the hotel, while serving as president.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh filed their lawsuit shortly after Trump took office. The 4th Circuit initially threw the lawsuit out, saying the attorneys general did not have legal standing to sue.

In December, all 15 judges in the circuit, which presides in Richmond, Virginia, reheard the case to decide whether the earlier three-judge panel hearing the case had erred in their determination.

Trump’s attorneys have maintained the president is not violating the emoluments clauses because the language bars only payments in exchange for official action or as part of an employment relationship.

Since the initial lawsuit, a federal judge in Maryland has signed off on more than a dozen subpoenas for Trump’s financial records to determine which government officials have stayed at Trump’s Washington hotel and how much they paid to stay there.

Those subpoenas have been on hold, pending the outcome of the president’s appeal.

Litigation

Census Bureau Reverses Course on Layoffs After Court Order
Census
Census Bureau Reverses Course on Layoffs After Court Order
September 8, 2020
by Dan McCue

The Census Bureau told a federal judge on Tuesday that it will delay laying off some census takers and will restore quality-control measures it had already begun winding down as the end of the once-a-decade population count nears its end. The notice, in a court filing,... Read More

Tech Giants Try to Dismiss Lawsuit Accusing Them of Child Labor Violation
Litigation
Tech Giants Try to Dismiss Lawsuit Accusing Them of Child Labor Violation
August 27, 2020
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- Some of America’s technology giants are trying to get a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit accusing them of promoting the use of children to mine cobalt for their lithium-ion batteries. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell and Tesla said in their motion to dismiss this... Read More

Trump Campaign Lawsuit Over Ballot Drop Boxes is Placed on Hold
Litigation
Trump Campaign Lawsuit Over Ballot Drop Boxes is Placed on Hold

A lawsuit by President Donald Trump’s campaign seeking to block Pennsylvania counties from using drop boxes to collect mail-in ballots was put on hold Sunday by a federal judge who said state courts should have a chance to decide the matter first. U.S. District Judge J.... Read More

Voter Lawsuit Aims to Block Mask Mandate at Minnesota Polling Places
Litigation
Voter Lawsuit Aims to Block Mask Mandate at Minnesota Polling Places

MINNEAPOLIS — A group of voters backed by Republican legislators sued Gov. Tim Walz and other state and local officials Tuesday in federal court, aiming to block a face mask requirement at polling places. Members of the Minnesota Voters Alliance and GOP lawmakers contend Walz’s mask... Read More

2020 Election Will Be Most Litigated in US History
Political News
2020 Election Will Be Most Litigated in US History

The 2020 election between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden is shaping up to be the most litigated in U.S. history, as changes to balloting prompted by the coronavirus pandemic spur lawsuits that could leave the outcome in suspense for days or even weeks. A recent... Read More

Trump Administration Walks Back Rule on Foreign Students
Education
Trump Administration Walks Back Rule on Foreign Students
July 14, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration has rescinded a rule that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the pandemic. The decision was announced at the start of a hearing in a federal lawsuit... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top