WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday put an end to two lawsuits that had accused former President Donald Trump of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clauses by profiting from his hotels and restaurants in New York and Washington.
In brief orders, the court wiped out rulings against Trump in the two cases and dismissed them as moot. There were no dissents noted.
The move means that there will be no definitive Supreme Court ruling on the meaning of the two provisions of the Constitution concerning emoluments, a term that means compensation for labor or services. One provision, the domestic emoluments clause, bars the president from receiving “any other emolument” from the federal government or the states beyond his official compensation.
The other provision, the foreign emoluments clause, bars anyone holding a federal “office of profit or trust” from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state” without the consent of Congress.
Federal appeals courts in New York and Virginia ruled against Trump on the preliminary issue of whether the plaintiffs were entitled to sue the president.
The New York case was brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which represented competitors of Trump’s businesses that said they had been disadvantaged by the payments he received.
Noah Bookbinder, the group’s executive director, said the lawsuit had served a valuable purpose.
“This important litigation made the American people aware for four years of the pervasive corruption that came from a president maintaining a global business and taking benefits and payments from foreign and domestic governments,” Bookbinder said in a statement. “Only Trump losing the presidency and leaving office ended these corrupt constitutional violations” and stopped the lawsuits.
The other case was brought by Maryland and the District of Columbia, which accused Trump of violating the Constitution by profiting from his Washington hotel.
In a joint statement, Brian E. Frosh, Maryland’s attorney general, and Karl A. Racine, the District of Columbia’s attorney general, said they had sought to prove that “President Trump illegally profited from his office by receiving improper emoluments in the form of money from foreign governments, federal agencies and state governments that conducted business at his hotel to curry favor with him and his administration.”
“History will note that at every step of this case, President Trump and political appointees at the Department of Justice went to extreme lengths to prevent us from uncovering the true extent of his corruption,” the statement said. “He attempted to short-circuit the rules of legal procedure to have our case dismissed and avoid discovery into his finances, arguing that the law did not apply to him.”
A third emoluments lawsuit, brought by Democratic members of Congress, was dismissed in February by a federal appeals court in Washington. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case in October.