In a rational world, this lawsuit would have zero chance of success.
In a case docketed today, 195 Democratic Senators and Congressmen, led by Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman John Conyers, filed suit against President Trump seeking to declare a violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. This follows a prior lawsuit by the Attorney Generals of Maryland and the District of Columbia.
The Emoluments Clause [ARTICLE I, SECTION 9, CLAUSE 8] provides:
“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.”
Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representative John Conyers, Jr., along with 194 other members of Congress, for their complaint against Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States of America, allege as follows:
1. Plaintiffs, 30 members of the United States Senate and 166 members of the United States House of Representatives, bring this action against President Donald J. Trump to obtain relief from the President’s continuing violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution, which was designed to ensure that our nation’s leaders would not be corrupted by foreign influence or put their own financial interests over the national interest. To achieve those aims, the Clause provides that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], 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.”1 [1 U.S. Const. art. I, § 9, cl. 8.] Through this measure, the nation’s Founders invested members of Congress with an important role in preventing the corruption and foreign influence that the Founders sought to avoid—permitting federal officeholders to accept otherwise prohibited “Emolument[s]” only if they first received “the Consent of the Congress.”
2. Defendant, President Donald J. Trump, has a financial interest in vast business holdings around the world that engage in dealings with foreign governments and receive benefits from those governments. By virtue of that financial interest, Defendant has accepted, or necessarily will accept, “Emolument[s]” from “foreign State[s]” while holding the office of President of the United States.
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief:
6. To redress that injury, Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief establishing that Defendant violates the Constitution when he accepts any monetary or nonmonetary benefit—any “present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever”—from a foreign state without first obtaining “the Consent of the Congress.” Plaintiffs also seek injunctive relief ordering Defendant not to accept any such benefits from a foreign state without first obtaining “the Consent of the Congress.”
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PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court enter a judgment in Plaintiffs’ favor and against Defendant, consisting of:
(a) A declaratory judgment stating that:
(1) Defendant is a “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust” within the meaning of the Foreign Emoluments Clause;
(2) the Foreign Emoluments Clause prohibits any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust” from accepting any benefits of value, monetary or nonmonetary, from “any King, Prince, or foreign State”;
(3) the phrase “any King, Prince, or foreign State” under the Foreign Emoluments Clause includes any foreign government and any agent or instrumentality thereof; and
(4) by accepting emoluments from foreign states without first seeking and obtaining “the Consent of the Congress,” Defendant is violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause;
(b) Injunctive relief, enjoining Defendant from accepting emoluments from foreign
states without first obtaining the consent of Congress; and
(c) Such other and further relief as this Court may deem just and proper.
More to follow.
UPDATE 6-16-2017: I have to apologize for no further follow up. The Scalise shooting coverage took priority over an analysis of the lawsuit.
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