Fourth Circuit Dismisses Emoluments Cases Against Trump

US-CourtOfAppeals-4thCircuit-SealThe 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday dismissed the emoluments cases filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia against President Donald Trump.  I have long been critical of the filings as advancing largely undefined and unwieldy interpretations of emoluments.  The Fourth Circuit made fast work of the filings and reversed the lower court for embracing attenuated and unsupported theories of standing. Other judges correctly dismissed these claims in the past.

The challenges were filed a couple years ago by law professors and advocacy groups.  Previous filings were made by CREW’s board chair and vice-chair Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, Constitutional law scholars Erwin Chemerinsky, Laurence H. Tribe and Zephyr Teachout, and Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler PLLC.  

Eisen was later hired by the House Democrats to help direct its investigations against Trump.

Judge Paul Niemeyer declared these theories as speculative and  “simply too attenuated” to satisfy constitutional analysis. He noted that many people, including diplomats, likely avoid the hotel due to its association and it is not clear what the injunction would do for a hotel bearing the President’s name: “the Hotel would still be publicly associated with the President, would still bear his name, and would still financially benefit members of his family.”

The decision is a stinging rejection of the opinion of District Court Judge Peter Messitte.

The court found no standing of these states to bring such an action:

“The District and Maryland’s interest in enforcing the Emoluments Clauses is so attenuated and abstract that their prosecution of this case readily provokes the question of whether this action against the President is an appropriate use of the courts, which were created to resolve real cases and controversies between the parties. In any event, for the reasons given, we grant the President’s petition for a writ of mandamus and, taking jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), hold that the District and Maryland do not have Article III standing to pursue their claims against the President. Accordingly, we reverse the district court’s orders denying the President’s motion to dismiss filed in his official capacity, and, in light of our related decision in No. 18-2488, we remand with instructions that the court dismiss the District and Maryland’s complaint with prejudice.”

The Fourth Circuit added: “To allow such a suit to go forward in the district court without a resolution of the controlling issues by a court of appeals could result in an unnecessary intrusion into the duties and affairs of a sitting President.” 

Here is the opinion: Emoluments decision

41 thoughts on “Fourth Circuit Dismisses Emoluments Cases Against Trump”


    The Soldier may forget his sword

    The Sailorman the sea,

    The Mason may forget the Word

    And the Priest his litany:

    The maid may forget both jewel and gem,

    And the bride her wedding-dress–

    But the Jew shall forget Jerusalem

    Ere we forget the Press!

    Who once hath stood through the loaded hour

    Ere, roaring like the gale,

    The Harrild and the Hoe devour

    Their league-long paper bale,

    And has lit his pipe in the morning calm

    That follows the midnight stress–

    He hath sold his heart to the old Black Art

    We call the daily Press.

    Who once hath dealt in the widest game

    That all of a man can play,

    No later love, no larger fame

    Will lure him long away.

    As the war-horse smelleth the battle afar,

    The entered Soul, no less,

    He saith: ‘Ha! Ha!’ where the trumpets are

    And the thunders of the Press.

    Canst thou number the days that we fulfil,

    Or the Times that we bring forth?

    Canst thou send the lightnings to do thy will,

    And cause them reign on earth?

    Hast thou given a peacock goodly wings

    To please his foolishness?

    Sit down at the heart of men and things,

    Companion of the Press!

    The Pope may launch his Interdict,

    The Union its decree,

    But the bubble is blown and the bubble is pricked

    By Us and such as We.

    Remember the battle and stand aside

    While Thrones and Powers confess

    That King over all the children of pride

    Is the Press–the Press–the Press!

    –Rudyard Kipling

  2. How could it be legal for a hotel to refuse to serve foreigners?

    This was political harassment. Trump did what was required, which was to put his businesses into a blind trust.

    It is very curious how Democrats are suddenly worried about foreign influence after studiously ignoring millions of dollars donated to the Clinton Foundation while they had business with Hillary’s State Department, or how Bill’s speaking fees withered when she lost the election. One wonders what they were paying for.

    1. Pretty much nothing Karen posted above was true:

      Trump’s ownership of the hotel is not in a blind trust. His family runs it.

      Unlike the Trump business, the Clinton Foundation is an A rated charity, meaning it is transparent and legitimate and donors can be confident it is as it represents, and the Clintons themselves receive zero enumeration from it.

      Bill’s speaking fees are both legal and transparent and is how they went from being broke to being multi-millionaires. Unlike Trump, their tax records are public and have been since at least 1992.

  3. Predictably the cult followers cheer anything perceived as favorable to their leader without a thought to the precedent laid for future presidents they won’t find so mesmerizing.

    The opinion by 3 GOP appointees (2 Bush, 1 Trump) rejected the case on standing of the plaintiffs, not the merits of their arguments, though they threw shade on some of that.

    One can own a business and hold office, but in the modern era – better than the past – executive’s businesses are typically placed in a blind trust.and their finances are fairly transparent. The gonad free Trump toadies here cheer his flouting of every principle of these practices up to and including even his avoidance of releasing past tax returns. If this was based on some obscure principle – the rights of kings? – it would be maybe understandable, but clearly Trump fealty is the only principle they follow, no matter what.

    1. You lost the case because it was complete and utter humbug. What the constitutional provision says is that the President may not accept bribes. It says nothing of business income. George Washington’s estate continued producing and selling during his eight years in office, and some of his clientele were foreigners.

      There is no enforcement mechanism in the provision that would provide for judicial intervention, either. It had to be quashed with prejudice by appellate judges because the trial judge is a collaborator with lawfare artists.

      1. Read the opinion doofus. There is no ruling on the merits, only standing.

        1. They didn’t have standing because there is no provision for any judicial enforcement mechanism. That aside, the complaint remains humbug.

          1. No, the court found that DC and Maryland have no standing as harmed parties.

            TIA keeps making stuff up in the hopes he’ll get lucky – no, not with the babes. Judging from his comments that battle’s long lost.

            1. I’m making nothing up. You got a bunch of law professors and sorosphere outfits to file suit when there is no issue, there is no enforcement mechanism, and they have no standing. You lost. You generally lose, because there are only so many lies your allies in the judiciary can countenance.

              1. Read the opinion doofus. Your opinion is typically worthless drivel from a Trump toadie and cult follower.

                1. And you’re recycling what the talking point mills tell you.

                  1. Even if I was, I’m running circles around you. Hardly an accomplishment, I agree.

    2. The lawsuit was brought by two Democratic attorneys general from heavily Democratic areas.
      I don’t know if they coordinated with David Brock’s successor, Richard Painter of CREW. I think Painter started this emoluments lawsuit on or near the date of the inauguration 2 1/2 years ago.
      Maybe they can try the Logan Act next……see if they get any traction with that tactic.
      Then there’s always the talk of “treason” ……..maybe they can pull that rabbit out of a hat if Trump is re-elected.

      1. Tom’s response is typical of Trump supporters – I know he claims not to be one yet never complains about him or his supporters here – who care nothing for principles or precedents, but in winning one on perceived enemies. It’s a movement of resentment, not principle.

        1. It’s always useful to have a sanctimonious puke like JanF./ anon1/ anon deliver a sermon.
          That’s the way anon—-who was originally “JanF” —-started out here c. 5 months ago on Feb. 24, and has built on that pile of crap ever since.
          Maybe the sermons/ lectures will have even more force is JanF/ anon1/ anon uses a 4th alias.

          1. Typically Tom is unable to keep it on the road when confronted with facts, including his own penchant for content free partisan BS, and relies instead on name calling.

            1. There are plenty of choices in “the name calling”, given JanF/ anon1/Anon’s use of multiple names here. There’s also a reason why a hyper-partisan fool like that draws some heat.

              1. Jan F says: February 24, 2019 at 2:03 PM
                No informed, sane, and decent person can defend Trump. That’s a fact, not an opinion.

                This is absurd x 2 says: February 24, 2019 at 2:35 PM
                That’s a fact, not an opinion.

                At this point I can’f figure if this remark is indicative of camp or stupidity.

                Jan F says: February 24, 2019 at 3:53 PM
                My remark is a statement of fact. Anyone who doubts it is a moral or mental defective.

                Tom Nash says: July 12, 2019 at 10:01 AM
                It is stupidity compounded by arrogance. I think those qualities should be recognized, regardless of which alias the person us using.

                1. The above “contribution” was from JanF’s ( now posting as “Anon” or “anon1”) debut here on Feb. 24. When someone like that goes out of their way to be an *******, they do risk being called “sanctimonious pukes” and other things that will clear the WordPress filter.
                  Under 3 different aliases, JanF./ anon1/ anon has also told us about her “personal friendship” with Bernie Sanders, heroic early 1960s civil rights work in the South, inside knowledge of the workings of the FBI and DOJ, etc.
                  Using more aliases might open the door to JanF/anon1/ anon’s claim of being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Nobel Peace Prize.
                  So there are more than a few problems that an idiot like JanF/ Anon1 /anon creates for “themselves”. There’s not much point in being polite to a lying sack of **** like JanF now Anon, who is convinced of their own ethical superiority and Walter Mitty-like accomplishments.

      2. “On January 30, 1799, the Logan Act was thus passed by the U.S. Congress to prevent any individual from corresponding with a foreign government without permission from the U.S. government. The Logan Act has been used in only one indictment (in the early 19th century), but that case was never prosecuted”. — from Encyclopedia Brittanica
        Right at this moment, there may be some who are dusting off the Logan Act as an “insurance policy” if their candidate loses again in 2020.

          1. kurtz is a liar because he claimed the NYTs was not covering the Hong Kong protests because they were “owned” by the Chinese government. On that same day he was presented to a link to their front page article on the protests as well as an editorial denouncing the Chinese government for their Hong Kong policy and their reaction to the protests. He refused to retract his now disproven statements and doubled down on his then ridiculous position.

            He’s a liar with no regard for facts or the truth.

            1. false, you liar, I didnt say the Chinese owned NYT flat out. is that the supposed lie you keep harping on here? what a pious fraud you are, anon, blow it out your ear!

              I said the Chicoms were developing equity positions in american mass media in general, developing their network of influence in the american mass media, and even going so far as to try and bribe american journalists

              and they’re definitely doing all that

              keep on schlepping for the NYT as it sinks into further discredit with the the general population, paper boy

              1. I put owned in quotes – “owned” as in Putin “owns” kurtz’s leader Trump – so kurtz’s faux outrage is just another excuse for him to avoid facts. and continue his lie.

  4. Thank goodness for the judiciary, the only unelected AND sane branch of government.

    (The Ninth Circus excepted of course.)

  5. It was a misguided, politically motivated case from its inception. The court saw that. More obstruction from the anti-everything crowd.

  6. See what happens when you let people into the goverrnment system who immediately prove they are not legal representatives

  7. Bill Martin, it’s not stalking, it’s a full blown attempt at a coup d’etat.

    The Obama Coup D’etat in America is the most egregious abuse of power and the most prodigious scandal in American political history.

    The co-conspirators are:

    Rosenstein, Mueller/Team, Comey, Christopher Wray, McCabe, Strozk, Page, Laycock, Kadzic,

    Yates, Baker, Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, Priestap, Kortan, Campbell, Sir Richard Dearlove, Steele,

    Simpson, Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer, Stefan “The Walrus” Halper, Azra Turk, Kerry, Hillary,

    Huma, Mills, Brennan, Gina Haspel, Clapper, Lerner, Farkas, Power, Lynch, Rice, Jarrett, Holder,

    Brazile, Sessions (patsy), Obama et al.

  8. “This is the big one…” for Fat Jerry Nadler. Fat Jerry and Pencil Neck Schiff are now just “stalking” the president – as pointed out by Bill Maher.

  9. The decision is a stinging rejection of the opinion of District Court Judge Peter Messitte

    This is the same guy who banned the use of the word Redskins in court without any explanation. Alas it cant possibly because he is a partisan judge appointed by Bill Clinton since Chief Justice Roberts told us judges are not like that

    Political Correctness Runs Amok—Judge Refuses To Use The Name Washington Redskins

    Just when we think things can’t get anymore ridiculous regarding the Redskins’ name, a United States District Judge, Peter Jo Messitte, has refused to use team’s name in a 21 page ruling in a lawsuit brought by a former Redskins’ player.

    “Pro Football’s team is popularly known as the Washington ‘Redskins,’ but the Court will refrain from using the team name unless reference is made to a direct quote where the name appears,” Messitte wrote in the opinion. “Pro Football’s team will be referred to hereafter simply as ‘the Washington Team.’”

    During open court proceeding lawyers were instructed by the Judge to not use the name Redskins because it’s offensive. Judge Messitte presides in the Maryland District of the federal courts

    “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.” Chief Justice John Roberts

  10. Democratic Party lawfare artists have strewn clutter all over the landscape. Some of it’s now being tossed in the dumpster for removal.

    Note the purpose of this lawsuit: to generate another ‘Landmark ruling’ to limit the presidency to people who do not own businesses. Look at the consequential presidential and VP candidates of the last 40 odd years in the Democratic Party: mostly quondam lawyers and posing lawyers. The only ones out of the business world were Bob Kerrey, Lloyd Bentsen, Paul Simon, and Jimmy Carter.

  11. What is an “emolument”? Some chemical used for cleaning crap out of a carpet?

    1. Those were taken up and replaced before the current President moved in.

  12. Getting really tired of political rulings by judges.

    In this case, the Fourth got it right, but the earlier judges brought disrespect to the judiciary.

    In this time of heightened partisanship, the judicial system is the last bastion of respectability. Unfortunately, some judges are determined to jump into the gutter.

    1. That’s your opinion and it sound strangely anti Constitutional.

  13. Dismissed with prejudice. This is the second federal court decision in less than a month where activists intent on anti-Trump political harassment were told “don’t use the Courts to wage political battles”. The other case was the one where House Dems tried to sue the Admin to stop the Exec Order redirecting military spending to pay for the border wall. The House Dems were in effect told, Congress is the place to work out immigration policy, not the Courts.

    Both decisions bode well for a change taking place within the federal court system, one where judges are bowing out of a role helping activist lawyers obtain policy objectives, or fulfilling harassment actions against the President.

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