The US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on Thursday dismissed [opinion] a case against President Donald Trump, which accused him of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause [materials].
The plaintiffs argued that Trump failed to adequately remove himself from his businesses, despite his legal obligation to do so, which harmed hotel and restaurant competitors in New York and Washington.
The court stated that the plaintiffs failed to properly allege which of the president’s specific actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries and that a federal court may not redress such injuries unless they can be fairly traced back to the defendant. The court went on to say that this is a issue of the “political question” doctrine [materials]. The court reasoned:
As the explicit language of the Foreign Emoluments Clause makes clear, this is an issue committed exclusively to Congress. As the only political branch with the power to consent to violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, Congress is the appropriate body to determine whether, and to what extent, Defendant’s conduct unlawfully infringes on that power. If Congress determines that an infringement has occurred, it is up to Congress to decide whether to challenge or acquiesce to Defendant’s conduct. As such, this case presents a non-justiciable political question.
Judge George B. Daniels, the penman of the opinion, went on to say, “[i]n short, unless and until Congress speaks on this issue, plaintiffs’ foreign Emoluments Clause claims are not ripe for adjudication.”
Two other lawsuits [NYT report] accusing Trump of similar violations are still pending.