The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case regarding whether former President Donald Trump violated the emoluments clause in the Constitution, which bars a president from profiting from a foreign government.
In an unsigned order issued without any dissent, the court instructed previous lower court opinions to be thrown out and ordered appeals courts in New York and Virginia to dismiss the suits as moot since Trump is no longer in office.
The emoluments clause prohibits a president from receiving any profit from any “King, Prince, or foreign state” unless Congress gives the OK. There were two cases implicated, both of which were tossed.
One was initiated by lawyers for Washington, D.C., and Maryland who argued that Trump violated the clause when he accepted payments from foreign and domestic governments through Trump International Hotel in the nation’s capital. The second case was brought by members of the hospitality industry who work in hotels and restaurants in both New York and Washington, D.C., who argued they were at a competitive disadvantage.
Among other things, the suits alleged that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “spent thousands of dollars” at Trump’s hotel in D.C. between Oct. 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017. It also alleged that Trump himself stayed there, along with members of his administration, and that prices were jacked up to premium level — all while taxpayers footed the bill.
Deepak Gupta, one of the attorneys challenging Trump, said the court’s decision wasn’t surprising since Trump is now out of office. (RELATED: POLL: 9 In 10 Democrats Want Trump Convicted – And Less Than 2 In 10 Republicans Do)
“SCOTUS just dismissed our Emoluments Clause litigation against Trump as moot. (We agreed it was now moot so that’s no surprise.) It’s disappointing that Trump ran out the clock. But I’m proud of the work we did to ensure the Constitution’s anti-corruption norms weren’t forgotten,” Gupta wrote in a tweet.
SCOTUS just dismissed our Emoluments Clause litigation against Trump as moot. (We agreed it was now moot so that’s no surprise.) It’s disappointing that Trump ran out the clock. But I’m proud of the work we did to ensure the Constitution’s anti-corruption norms weren’t forgotten. https://t.co/Rc6zkPZIIk
— Deepak Gupta (@deepakguptalaw) January 25, 2021
Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) Noah Bookbinder expressed a similar sentiment in a statement released Monday.
“CREW sued Donald Trump on his first day in the Oval Office for systematic violations of the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution,” Bookbinder said. “This important litigation made the American people aware for four years of the pervasive corruption that came from a president maintaining a global business and taking benefits and payments from foreign and domestic governments.”
“Only Trump losing the presidency and leaving the office ended these corrupt constitutional violations and stopped these groundbreaking lawsuits,” he continued.