Democrats suffered a defeat last week when their emoluments case was thrown out of court. Surprisingly it was a Ginsburg opinion that was relied upon to do so.
According to The Daily Caller:
President Donald Trump had an unlikely ally in his fight against an anti-corruption lawsuit from congressional Democrats — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is leading a coalition of 186 House members and 29 senators alleging the president has unlawfully profited from foreign patronage at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in violation of an ethics provision in the Constitution called the foreign emoluments clause. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the lawsuit on Feb. 7 on technical grounds, relying in part on a 2019 Ginsburg opinion.
The D.C. Circuit disagreed, saying the plaintiff-lawmakers have no basis for their suit. The panel explained that individual members of a legislature have no standing to protect the legislature’s institutional interests in court. That’s because legislatures exercise power as a body through majority vote. Power does not belong to any particular member.
The Supreme Court first said as much in a 1997 case called Raines. Ginsburg reiterated that principle in her 2019 majority opinion in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill, a case involving a fight over racially gerrymandered legislative districts. Ginsburg’s opinion in Bethune-Hill, “puts paid to any doubt regarding the Members’ lack of standing,” the D.C. Circuit said.
The court ruled that only an institution can assert an institutional injury. This would, at the least, require a majority in each chamber, something that the Democrats do not have here.