Washington — The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to revive a legal battle brought by congressional Democrats who allege President Trump is violating the Constitution with his continued ownership in hotels and restaurants, as they do business with foreign governments.
With its decision not to take up the dispute, the Supreme Court left in place a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that found the case should be dismissed because the Democratic lawmakers did not have the legal standing to bring it.
At issue was whether Mr. Trump violated the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause with his continued ownership in his companies. The clause, which aims to combat foreign influence, prohibits the president from accepting any gift, office, title or “emolument” from a foreign state without congressional approval.
“By maintaining ownership of his companies while allowing them to conduct business with foreign governments, the president is accepting payments and other financial benefits from foreign states,” the Democrats wrote in their petition to the court. “Yet President Trump has not sought, much less obtained, congressional consent for any of these transactions. Instead, he has disregarded the Constitution’s structure safeguard” against foreign influence.
The Democrats argued that each time Mr. Trump “accepts a foreign emolument” without prior approval from Congress, he is denying their “right to cast an effective vote on whether he may accept that emolument.”
The Senate Democrats filed their lawsuit against Mr. Trump in 2017, and a federal district court ruled the following year that the lawmakers had standing to bring the suit. But in February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed the lower court’s decision, and ordered the lower court to throw out the case.
One other lawsuit relating to Mr. Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel is pending. In May, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request from Mr. Trump to block the lawsuit brought by officials in D.C. and Maryland, who accuse him of violating the emoluments clause by accepting foreign and state governments at the Trump International Hotel, located near the White House.