The federal appeals court for Washington, D.C., has ruled that Democratic lawmakers alleging President Trump violated the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause do not have the standing to sue.
The circuit court sent the case back to the district court judge with instructions to dismiss.
The litigation began in 2017 when Democratic lawmakers filed suit, arguing Mr. Trump had a financial interest in his business holdings that benefit from foreign governments. They said the president is profiting from foreign states, claiming Congress must vote to accept any emoluments, or payments, the president might receive from a foreign entity.
But the three-judge panel for the District of Columbia’s federal appeals court said the lawmakers did not suffer an injury sufficient to sue the president, noting 29 senators and 186 House members are the listed plaintiffs — not a majority of lawmakers from either body of Congress.
The court reasoned the minority number of lawmakers is “therefore, powerless to approve or deny the President’s acceptance of foreign emoluments.”
“For standing, the Members’ inability to act determinatively is important … and, conversely, the size of their cohort is not — so long as it is too small to act. That is, we assess this complaint — filed by 215 Members — no differently from our assessment of a complaint filed by a single Member,” the court wrote in its 12-page opinion.
Mr. Trump told reporters the ruling was a “total win.”
“This was brought by 230 Democrats in Congress on emoluments. It was another phony case and we won it, 3-0. We won it unanimously,” the president said.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, who both pushed for the lawsuit, said they were disappointed by the court’s ruling and are reviewing their options.
“This dismaying decision adds to the already widespread fear that the checks on unbridled presidential power, corruption and self-enrichment have been seriously undermined,” Mr. Blumenthal said.
Mr. Nadler said the court’s dismissal “in no way condones President Trump’s continuing violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.”
The three panelists making the ruling were Judges Karen L. Henderson, David S. Tatel and Thomas B. Griffith, respectively appointed to the court by Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
⦁ Thomas Howell and Jeff Mordock contributed to this report.