The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals granted a halt Thursday to proceedings in the so-called Emoluments Clause lawsuit brought against President Donald Trump.
The suit by Maryland and the District of Columbia alleges that Trump violated a constitutional prohibition on profiting from his post by doing business with foreign governments.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh filed the case in 2017 with D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.
In Tuesday’s order, signed by law clerk Patricia S. Connor, the court said parties will need to argue the very basis for the lawsuit, namely, their right to seek relief from Trump.
Oral arguments for the case are scheduled for March 19.
Earlier this month, dozens of subpoenas were issued to businesses affiliated with Trump and others. Frosh said some organizations had already responded to the subpoenas and that others could if they chose to. He did not view it as a setback for the case and said the ruling was simply procedural, not on the merits of the case. “We will vigorously defend our position,” Frosh said. “We believe that the president is violating the constitution by using his office to profit from it.”
Among those receiving subpoenas were 13 Trump organizations, including The Trump Organization Inc., Trump International Hotels Management LLC, Trump Old Post Office LLC and The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust.
The case centers on foreign dignitaries paying to stay at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Frosh and Racine say Trump’s ownership of a business that accepts money from foreign governments violates the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. The framers of the Constitution adopted the clause out of concern that foreign heads of state could exert influence over the president or other federal officials.
Frosh could not immediately be reached for comment.