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"If a federal judge allows the case to proceed..." is not a good way to start off and the Washington Post buries it a third of the way down, but remember when I nattered on about 'standing' and the Emoluments Clause? Yeah, we're gonna go there again.

Here's the Post story on a new attempt to sue Trump for violating that clause. The Attorneys General of MD and DC have decided to file suit alleging that 45 has violated the clause.

I think it's quite reasonable to make an argument that such a violation has occurred (many such, really). But remember, the question isn't whether there's a violation - the question is whether there is "an injury-in-fact" that can be directly connected to the alleged conduct "and that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision." I didn't make up that language - that comes from a recent Supreme Court decision just this month.

Take it a step at a time. The Attorneys General are apparently arguing that Trump has violated their citizens' rights "...to have honest government." Raise your hands if you believe the US Government is honest, Trump or no Trump. Yeah, that's what I thought; I don't much think so, either. Nor, if I put on my legal hat, do I think it is easy to trace a line from the alleged conduct (accepting foreign payments) to any particular additional dishonesty in Washington. Even if you accept that some injury-in-fact (as opposed to in theory) has occurred I can't figure out how to connect it to Trump's acceptance of payments - as opposed, say, to Trump being a sock puppet for Putin.

Finally, and here's the really interesting part, there's the question of what redress can be ordered by the Court. Let's assume for the moment that we get all the other ducks lined up. The Court then says "Now what?" Presumably if the challenged actions relate to Trump's refusal to blind his business interests the remedy would have to address that. Since we can't order Trump to have amnesia and forget which countries contain properties with his name blasted all over them a simple blind trust isn't going to work. He'd have to be ordered to divest of those properties, and divest in some way that would mean he isn't just banking the cash until his term in office is over.

To say that would be an extraordinary remedy is a huge understatement. I cannot imagine any Court ordering it or it standing up to scrutiny on review if somehow a court did order such. Because, really, how many people believe that making Trump get rid of his business conflicts is suddenly going to make him a good, or even passable, President so that the citizens alleged to have been harmed will suddenly get good government? Yeah, I didn't think so, and I doubt you can convinced me you did.

I am torn. I firmly believe this is going nowhere but I also respect that serious legal minds think there is some merit to these cases and I'm no lawyer. I have to admit I could be wrong and we'll find ourselves breaking new legal ground. But I doubt it.

What's interesting, though, is that these cases might serve as a foundation for others who want to challenge conduct by officials in the Administration. I'm thinking particularly of cities that lose school funding to DeVos's charter schemes (in which she has real business interests) and others. There are much more solid cases to be made that officials in the Trump administration are not administering their offices in impartial ways and courts may be more ready to provide clear remedies for such conduct, such as denying voucher programs, ordering restoration of funding, and so forth. The Emoluments Clause doesn't apply to such officials, but there are other laws that do.
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