The Supreme Court on Monday tossed out a pair of emoluments lawsuits claiming that former President Donald Trump was profiting from the presidency, saying the cases are moot now that Trump is no longer in office.
In a brief order, the Supreme Court requested “with instructions to dismiss the case as moot” and ordered the lower courts from the 2nd U.S. Circuit and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to “vacated the judgment” and “remanded” the cases ordered, thus wiping the earlier decisions off the books.
The two lawsuits, filed by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the Attorneys general for Washington, D.C., and Maryland, were part of a legal novel effort that alleged Trump violated the Constitution’s emoluments clauses by continuing to own his business empire while in office. A third case was brought by more than a hundred Democratic members of Congress but was quickly rejected by the Supreme Court last year.
First filed in 2017, not long after Trump was sworn into the presidency, the cases brought by CREW claimed Trump illegally violated the Constitution’s foreign and domestic emoluments clauses in connection with his ownership of the Trump International Hotel, located near the White House was frequented by government and foreign officials.
The foreign emoluments clause bans officeholders from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince of foreign State” without approval from Congress. The domestic emoluments clause specifically notes that a president “shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”
The suits sought financial records showing how much state and foreign governments have paid the Trump Organization to stay and eat at Trump-owned properties. While Trump turned over control of his company to his two oldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, after the 2016 presidential election, he decided not to divest from his company, a decision that many cried foul as they claimed Trump would be profiting off of the presidency.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a statement following the Supreme Court’s action that their case demonstrated “no one — not even the president of the United States — is above the law.”
“We are proud that because of our case, a court ruled on the meaning of ’emoluments’ for the first time in American history, finding that the Constitution prohibits federal officials from accepting almost anything of value from foreign or domestic governments,” the statement reads. “This decision will serve as precedent that will help stop anyone else from using the presidency or other federal office for personal financial gain the way that President Trump has over the past four years.”