The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday dismissed a lawsuit brought by Democratic members of Congress charging that President Donald Trump was illegally profiting from his business interests in violation of the Constitution.
A three-judge panel issued a unanimous “per curiam” decision finding the lawmakers had no standing to bring their suit, which pointed to Trump profiting from foreign government officials choosing to spend money at Trump hotels as violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.
The Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. is the primary property Democrats have singled out as the one some foreign officials choose to patronize while they are in the nation’s capital.
The D.C. circuit judges found that the lawsuit is really a political matter for Congress and the president to work out, not the judiciary.
“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 judges wrote. “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,” they added.
The provision reads, “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
The Democrats’ lawsuit argued “that foreign diplomats’ patronage of the president’s hotels opens Trump up to the kind of foreign influence that the framers had sought to avoid, and that the president had not consulted Congress on his business dealings,” according to The Hill.
The D.C. Circuit judges noted that the Senate and House Democrats who sued Trump represented a minority in both chambers, and therefore the lawmakers had no standing to bring the case.
“[O]ur conclusion is straightforward because the Members — 29 Senators and 186 Members of the House of Representatives — do not constitute a majority of either body and are, therefore, powerless to approve or deny the President’s acceptance of foreign emoluments,” the court decision reads.
Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday that the court ruling was a “total win.”
“We just won the big emoluments case,” the president said. “This was brought by Nancy Pelosi and her group.”
Trump on emoluments ruling:
“I’ll be reading it on the helicopter, but it was a total win.” pic.twitter.com/ZYJ37lgNZN
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) February 7, 2020
“This was brought by 230 Democrats in Congress on emoluments,” Trump added.
“It was another phony case, and we won it three to nothing. We won it unanimously.”
It was not clear at if the lawmakers will appeal the decision.
“While we are disappointed in the panel’s decision and are in active discussions with our clients as they consider their next steps, it is important to recognize that today’s ruling is not a decision on the merits,” Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, which is representing the Democrats in the case, said in a statement, according to The Hill.
“The Court of Appeals did not in any way approve of President Trump’s repeated and flagrant violations of the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause.”
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, is also hearing an emoluments suit brought by the Democratic attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia.
A decision has yet to be issued.
News of Trump’s most recent legal victory comes just two days after the Senate voted to acquit him on both articles of impeachment brought by the Democrat-led House.
The president also hit a personal best of 49 percent approval rating in a Gallup poll released earlier this week.
Additionally, Gallup found 63 percent of Americans approving of the way Trump is handling the economy, the highest economic approval rating for any president since President George W. Bush.
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