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CREW v. Trump

Soon you’ll start your law school journey. If you’re unfortunate enough to have to take constitutional law in your first year, you’ll be very happy to find out about Erwin Chemerinsky, the author of the most widely used con law supplement around. Don’t buy the casebook, buy Chemerinsky’s supplement instead.

If helping 1Ls get through con law wasn’t enough, Chemerinsky is also running UC Irvine School of Law and now he’s suing President Trump. A few others are pitching in to help Chemerinsky, but as they haven’t authored any law school supplements of note, they’re unknown to me.

Here’s the gist of the suit. The Constitution bans payments from foreign powers to Trump’s companies, like his hotels and golf courses, the scholars argue. Chemerinsky might be one of a handful of people who’ve actually read the Constitution (I haven’t), so I’d take his word for it.

Eric Trump, President Trump’s son, who is the VP of the Trump Organization, says that President Trump has gone above-and-beyond what’s required by walling himself off from potential conflicts stemming from his vast business empire. For instance, the Trumps claim that any profits from foreign governments will be donated to the US Treasury.

Here’s the major problem for Professor Chemerinsky and his friends. You can’t just sue anyone you think is up to no good. You have to be one of the people who’s been injured in order to sue. And not just any remote injury will do. The injury has to be “concrete.” This is called the “standing” requirement.

The thinking out there seems to be that Chemerinsky et al. won’t be able to demonstrate standing to sue. Chemerinsky probably knows that’s true. But a law suit like this will get the issue out into the public eye.

The other problem is that courts don’t like to get involved in issues that are too political. It makes the courts look bad to be perceived as political. Judges like to think of themselves as immune to politics. They just apply the law, they don’t get involved in, say, deciding a presidential election (hah!). So, while most of the marquee Supreme Court decisions are all over hot button political issues, sometimes the courts will take a pass on political issues.

So this suit doesn’t seem to have much of a chance.

In any event, seeing President Trump melt down on Twitter over a bunch of liberal professors taking him to federal court will be very entertaining.