District of Columbia v. Trump (Niemeyer 7/10/2019): The Fourth Circuit held that the District of Columbia and Maryland did not have standing to sue President Trump, in his individual capacity, for violating the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The Court held that the parties lacked standing to sue President Trump because they could not show that President Trump’s patrons supported his businesses out of a desire to further his economic interests. Full Opinion
United States v. Courtade (Gregory 7/3/2019) (amended 7/10/2019): The Fourth Circuit held that the district court properly denied the appellant’s motion to correct his sentence for possession of child pornography. The Court reasoned that the sentence was not flawed, as a reasonable jury could have concluded that the video possessed by appellant met the statutory requirements for pornography and because appellant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel. Full Opinion
Overbey v. The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore (Floyd 7/11/2019): The Fourth Circuit held that the district court erred in granting the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore summary judgment on the appellant’s claim that the city violated her First Amendment rights when it withheld half of her settlement because of her public speech about her police misconduct case. The Court reasoned that the city’s non-disparagement agreement may have violated the claimant’s First Amendment rights, and remanded the case so that the parties could develop the evidentiary record on the issues. Full Opinion
Butts v. United States (Quattlebaum 7/11/2019): The Fourth Circuit held that the district court erred in entering a verdict against a federally-employed doctor for medical malpractice, concluding that the doctor did not breach his standard of care when he failed to transfer the patient to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit. The Court reasoned that the district court’s finding was erroneous, as a board-certified neonatologist told the doctor that he had the equipment and training to care for the patient at the facility. Full Opinion
In re Donald J. Trump
Decided: July 10, 2019
The Fourth Circuit granted President Trump’s petition for writ of mandamus, concluding that the District of Columbia and Maryland lack standing to sue President Trump under the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The Court reasoned that the complainants did not have standing as a result of either their proprietary interests in properties in competition with President Trump’s businesses or their parens patriae interest in protecting their citizens’ economic interests.
The District of Columbia and Maryland’s complaint sought a declaration that President Trump violated the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution, as well as an injunction that would prohibit further violations. The district court denied President Trump’s motions to dismiss the action, and further denied to certify its orders for appeal. Out of a desire to avoid intrusive discovery into his personal financial affairs and the official actions of his Administration, the President filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the Fourth Circuit seeking an order (1) directing the district court to certify its orders for appeal under § 1292(b), or (2) directing the court to dismiss the District and Maryland’s complaint outright.
The Fourth Circuit elected to dismiss the District of Columbia and Maryland’s complaint outright, concluding that the parties lacked standing to bring the action. Specifically, the Fourth Circuit held that the district court erred in determining that three separate bases for standing existed. First, the Court found that the parties had no proprietary interest in the suit because they could not show that patrons visited President Trump’s hotels for the purpose of benefitting his businesses. The Court also found that the parties had no standing for the purpose of protecting their citizens’ economic interests for the same reason. Finally, the Court held that the parties could not base standing on their sovereign interests, as a mere general interest in having the law followed does not satisfy Article III justiciability requirements.
Accordingly, the Fourth Circuit dismissed the District of Columbia and Maryland’s action against President Trump.
Fredrick N. Hanna