Second Circuit Reversal Advances Emoluments Case Against Trump

The U.S. Court of Appeals has vacated a lower court decision that blocked the Emoluments case against President Trump. The September 13 ruling in Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Trump, reversed the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (George B. Daniels, J.), which had granted the president’s motion to dismiss the action based on the Domestic and Foreign Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution.  The Second Circuit vacated and remanded this decision in a decision written by circuit judge Pierre N. Leval. Judge John M. Walker, Jr.  issued a dissenting opinion, largely drawing on a similar case in the Fourth Circuit.

The plaintiffs, some of whom are hoteliers and restaurant-owners, allege that “they directly compete with the president’s establishments for foreign, state, and federal government clientele” and have lost business after November 2016, according to the Second Circuit’s ruling. The plaintiffs also claim that the president has been “implicitly soliciting the patronage of government officials” and that “he favors governments that patronize his businesses” and that this had the desired effect – governments and diplomats spending money at the Trump establishments. The president’s receipt of the revenues would thus violate the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses. The plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, viz. a declaration from the courts that the president’s conduct violates the constitution and an injunction to stop this behavior and release financial records.

Federal Judge Eviscerates Trump’s Challenge to Tax Return Subpoena

In a strongly worded ruling last week,  Federal District Judge Victor Marrero rejected Donald Trump’s attempt to protect his tax returns from a grand jury subpoena. Trump sought a preliminary injunction to block the state subpoena for the returns held by his accounting firm, Mazars.

The October 7, 2019 ruling in Trump v. Vance et al. eviscerated Trump’s lawyers’ arguments, which amounted to a claim that “the person who serves as President, while in office, enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind” including “investigations, grand jury proceedings and subpoenas, indictment, prosecution, arrest, trial, conviction, and incarceration…” and that this doctrine would extend to any affiliate of the president who may have collaborated with him.

With Two Justices Dissenting, Supreme Court Allows Ban on Immigrants Seeking Asylum to Remain

On September 11, 2019, in a 7 to 2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively permitted the Trump administration to enforce a ban on Central American asylum-seekers, while an appeal continues in a lower court.

The ruling in William Barr, Attorney General, et al. v. East Bay Sanctuary Covenant et al, was temporary in nature, as the Court order stated  “If a writ of certiorari is sought and the Court denies the petition, this order shall terminate automatically.  If the Court grants the petition for a writ of certiorari, this order shall terminate when the Court enters its judgment.”

U.S. Court of Appeals Dismisses Emoluments Lawsuit Against Trump

On July 10, 2019, the judges of the fourth circuit Court of
Appeals ruled against the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland in
their lawsuit against Donald Trump for violating the Foreign and Domestic
Emoluments Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

Judges Paul Niemeyer, A. Marvin Quattlebaum, and Dennis Shedd
concluded “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” (Opinion, 35-36). The court granted
President Trump’s writ of mandamus, and reversed the District Court’s ruling.

U.S. District Court Rules Attorney General Cannot Deny Asylum Seekers a Bond Hearing

On July 2, 2019, Federal District Judge Marsha Pechman of the Western District of Washington at Seattle affirmed a preliminary injunction granted in April and modified the injunction “to find that the statutory prohibition at Immigration and Nationality Act § 235(b)(1)(B)(ii) against releasing on bond persons found to have a credible fear of persecution if returned to their country and awaiting a determination of their asylum application violates the U.S. Constitution; the Bond Hearing Class is constitutionally entitled to a bond hearing (under the conditions enumerated above) pending resolution of their asylum applications.”

Supreme Court Blocks Trump’s Citizenship Question on the U.S. Census

On June 27, 2019 the Supreme Court of the United States by a vote of 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the majority decision, ruled the government cannot add the question of citizenship to the U.S. census. The court concluded the current explanation given for the reinstatement of the question is not a “genuine justification,” therefore, it cannot be added to the census unless the government is able to provide legitimate justification. Consequently, the court “affirmed in part and reversed in part” the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

According to the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, the citizenship question was requested to be added on the census by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in order to enhance the data on “citizen voting-age population for purposes of enforcing the Voting Rights Act”. Unfortunately, out of fear, many noncitizens would not reply to the census if a citizenship question were to be added.

Circuit Court Affirms that Trump Cannot Block People from his Twitter Account

On July 9th, 2019, the U.S Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the judgement of  the District Court for the Southern District of New York in ruling that the president cannot block people from his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account. The ruling followed a 2017 lawsuit by the Knight First Amendment Institute against the president, where they alleged that the First Amendment was violated when several plaintiffs were blocked from viewing or responding to @realDonaldTrump’s tweets.

In July of 2017, seven plaintiffs along with the Knight Institute sued President Donald Trump, White House Director of Social Media Daniel Scavino, and two other White House Staff members for blocking their access to what they believed to be a “public forum”.

Appeals Court Confirms Block Trump’s on Abortion Ban for Unaccompanied Minors

On June 14, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the District Court’s “preliminary injunction against the government’s blanket denial access to abortion for unaccompanied minors,” with Judge Laurence H. Silberman dissenting. The court “vacate[d] and remand[ed], though, a separate aspect of the district court’s preliminary injunction, which bars disclosure to parents and others of unaccompanied minors’ pregnancies and abortion decisions.”

Two Federal Judges Reject Trump’s Attempt to Block Congressional Subpoenas for Financial Records

Over two days in May, federal judges one in Washington D.C. and New York City ruled that U.S. Congressional Committees have the legal authority to subpoena private companies requesting financial records relating to Donald Trump and his business affiliates.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a subpoena on April 15 had requested financial records and other documents from Mazars USA LLP, a firm that Donald Trump has used for accounting services, from 2011 to. As a result, Mr. Trump and his business affiliates filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia requesting “the court, among other things, to declare that the Oversight Committee’s subpoena to Mazars ‘is invalid and unenforceable’ and to issue a ‘permanent injunction quashing Chairman Cummings’ subpoena.” (Opinion, 12).

Fourth Circuit Ruling Says Trump’s Termination of DACA Unlawful

On May 17, 2019, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 that the Trump administration could not rescind the DACA program protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation. The ruling, by Judge Robert Bruce King and Judge Albert Diaz states that the government’s removal of protections for immigrants who came to the United States as children violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Judge Julius N. Richardson cast the dissenting vote.