Appeals Court Permits Emoluments-Clause Lawsuit against Trump to Proceed

Secret Service agents walk into Trump Tower in Manhattan, August 4, 2017. (Mike Segar /Reuters)

A federal appeals court on Friday breathed new life into a lawsuit that claims the financial relationship between President Trump’s properties and foreign officials violates the Constitution, ruling that a lower court had erred in dismissing the suit.

By a two-to-one vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected the lower court’s 2017 ruling, which had dismissed the case brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). CREW’s suit alleges that foreign governments’ patronage of Trump’s businesses violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits federal officials from receiving benefits from foreign governments without Congress’s consent.

“Plaintiffs have plausibly pleaded that the President’s ownership of hospitality businesses that compete with them will induce government patrons of the hospitality industry to favor Trump businesses over those of the Plaintiffs so as to secure favorable governmental action from the President and Executive branch,” Judge Pierre Leval wrote. “While the existence of a political motivation for a lawsuit does not supply standing, nor does it defeat standing, whether a lawsuit has political motivations is irrelevant to these determinative issues.”

CREW welcomed the court’s ruling

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