Appeals panel cites Ginsburg-penned opinion in dismissing Trump emoluments case

There appears to be at least one thing on which liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and President Donald Trump can agree.

An opinion penned by Ginsburg was cited by a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in its decision dismissing a constitutional emoluments clause case against the president, the Daily Caller reported.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), led a coterie of congressional Democrats in accusing Trump of unlawfully benefitting financially from the fact that foreign governments and their representatives spend money at his luxury hotel property in Washington, D.C. and that he is doing so without congressional authorization.

No standing

However, the Democrats did not get very far with their claims, as a unanimous panel of three judges found that individual members of Congress lack the necessary standing to bring suit against the president. Justice Ginsburg’s 1999 opinion in a gerrymandering case was one of the precedents referenced by the jurists as a basis for their interpretation.

Ginsburg’s 2019 opinion in the case of Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune Hill set the stage for the D.C. panel’s finding that only an institution  itself– in this case, Congress — would have the legal standing to claim institutional injury in a court of law.

As such, since the 29 Democrat senators and 186 Democrat House members who filed suit do not comprise a majority of either institution, they cannot assert the kind of judicially recognizable injury required for the case to proceed.

Blumenthal was quick to claim that the panel’s ruling did not settle the Democrats’ central contention, because it did not address the merits of their complaint. The opinion did not say one way or the other whether Trump in fact violated the foreign emoluments clause, and the dismissal was instead due to a procedural interpretation.

“Nothing in today’s opinion changes the fundamental facts: President Trump has flagrantly and frequently violated the Constitution’s preeminent protection against corruption,” Blumenthal said.

There are at least two other emoluments cases in the pipeline that Trump still needs to fight. One such case was brought in New York City and another is pending in Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Whether Blumenthal intends to pursue an appeal of the ruling to either the full D.C. Circuit or to the U.S. Supreme Court remains to be seen.

Trump’s take

Trump previously called concern over the emoluments clause in relation to his business enterprises “phony” and said that he has lost millions of dollars in business revenue by virtue of serving as president. Last year, Trump backed down and canceled plans to host the G7 summit at his Trump National Doral Miami resort amid fierce backlash from the left.

The president has also criticized Barack Obama’s 2017 book deal with Penguin Random House and production deal with streaming giant Netflix, which were announced after his departure from office but may have been negotiated while he was still president.

“Hey, Obama made a deal for a book—is that running a business? I’m sure he didn’t even discuss it while he was president,” Trump said. “He has a deal with Netflix. When did they start talking about that?”

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