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Supreme Court Tosses Democrats Lawsuits Seeking Access To Trump Finances

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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion


The U.S. Supreme Court has halted lawsuits from Democrats that accused Donald Trump of violating the U.S. Constitution’s anti-corruption provisions by maintaining ownership of his business empire including a hotel near the White House while in office.

The justices threw out lower court rulings that had allowed the lawsuits – one filed by the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland and the other by plaintiffs including a watchdog group – to proceed, while also declining to hear Trump’s appeals of those decisions.

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The justices ordered the lower courts to dismiss the cases because they are now moot.

The plaintiffs accused Trump of running afoul of the Constitution’s “emoluments” provisions that bar presidents from accepting gifts or payments from foreign and state governments without congressional approval.

The plaintiffs had asked the Supreme Court to reject Trump’s appeals because the dispute would disappear once he left office last Wednesday.

In one of the cases, plaintiffs including the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a hotel owner and a restaurant trade group said the former Republican president’s failure to disentangle himself from his businesses had made him vulnerable to inducements by officials seeking to curry favor.

The plaintiffs said that they lost patronage, wages, and commissions from clients who chose Trump’s businesses over theirs because of the ability to gain the former president’s favor.

After a federal judge initially threw out the case, the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived it in 2019.

A 2020 decision by the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a similar lawsuit by the District of Columbia and Maryland to proceed.

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That suit focused on the Trump International Hotel in Washington, which became a favored lodging and event space for some foreign and state officials visiting Washington.

A third lawsuit filed by congressional Democrats against Trump ended last year after the Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal of a lower court ruling that the lawmakers lacked the necessary legal standing to pursue the case.

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This is the second major loss the Democrats suffered at the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a heavy blow to a major left-wing environmental group.

In the 7-2 ruling, the justices sided with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, thwarting the Sierra Club’s bid to obtain documents concerning a regulation finalized in 2014 relating to power plants.

“The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that federal agencies make records available to the public upon
request unless those records fall within one of nine exemptions. Exemption 5 incorporates the privileges available to
Government agencies in civil litigation, such as the deliberative process privilege, attorney-client privilege, and attorney work-product privilege,” Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote.

“This case concerns the deliberative process privilege, which protects from disclosure documents generated during an agency’s deliberations about a policy, as opposed to documents that embody or explain a policy that the agency adopts,” she continued.

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Barrett added: “We must decide whether the privilege protects in-house drafts that proved to be the agencies’ last word about a proposal’s potential threat to endangered species. We hold that it does.”

Barrett and the court’s other five conservative justices were joined by liberal Justice Elena Kagan in the majority, with liberals Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor in dissent.

While this case isn’t “landmark” status for the hottest issues of the day, it’s an important win for the rule of law over left-wing activism.

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