Maryland, D.C. Have Standing to Pursue Violations of Constitution’s Emoluments Clauses

BALTIMORE, MD (March 28, 2018) – Today, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled that the District of Columbia and Maryland have standing to challenge President Trump’s violation of the Emoluments Clauses. The Emoluments Clauses are the Constitution’s anti-corruption provisions. Their purpose is to ensure that the President makes decisions in the best interest of the country and its citizens, not his own personal financial interests.

“Today’s decision is a win for the rule of law, and soundly rejects the Trump Administration’s argument that nobody can challenge the President’s illegal conduct,” said Attorney General Frosh.

“This important decision proves once again that no one – not even the President – is above the law,” said Attorney General Racine. “We will continue to seek an injunction to stop President Trump from flouting the Constitution’s original anti-corruption provisions.”

The Court found that the District and Maryland had standing – essentially, the right to assert a claim – to sue President Trump with regard to the Trump International Hotel in Washington and any other Trump Organization business activity within the District of Columbia. “[T]he Emoluments Clauses clearly were and are meant to protect all Americans. The President concedes as much,” U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte wrote in his decision. “That being so, there is no reason why Plaintiffs, a subset of Americans who have demonstrated present injury or the immediate likelihood of injury by reason of the President’s purported violations of the Emoluments Clauses, should be prevented from challenging what might be the President’s serious disregard of the Constitution.

Under the President’s interpretation, it would seem that no one—save Congress which, as discussed momentarily, may never undertake to act—would ever
be able to enforce these constitutional provisions.”

The Court will now schedule further arguments to determine whether–based on the facts as alleged in our complaint–the President’s receipt of payments from foreign and domestic governments violates the Emoluments Clauses.

The Court’s order and its supporting opinion can be found here.