WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday gave the go ahead to part of a lawsuit that accuses President Donald Trump of flouting constitutional safeguards against corruption by maintaining ownership of his business empire while in office.
U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte in Greenbelt, Maryland refused a request by the Justice Department to throw out the case entirely, although he narrowed the claims to include only those involving the Trump International Hotel in Washington and not Trump’s businesses outside of the U.S. capital.
The lawsuit was filed by the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland last June.
The ruling marked a setback for the administration’s efforts to quash claims that Trump has violated the U.S. Constitution’s “emoluments” provisions, which have dogged Trump since even before he took office last year.
The provisions are designed to prevent corruption and foreign influence. One bars U.S. officials from accepting gifts or other emoluments from foreign governments without congressional approval. The other forbids the president from receiving emoluments from individual states.
The lawsuit claimed that the president failed to disentangle himself from his hotels and other businesses, making him vulnerable to inducements by officials seeking to curry favor with him.
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, responding to this past weekend's March For Our Lives in several cities, is proposing what some might call a radical solution to prevent further gun violence — repealing the Second Amendment.
In an op-ed in Tuesday's New York Times, the 97-year-old Stevens writes that a constitutional amendment "to get rid of" the Second Amendment, "would do more to weaken the N.R.A.'s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option."
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens
The Second Amendment states that "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Stevens called that concern "a relic of the 18th century," and says repealing it would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States.
Stevens, who retired from the court in 2010, had two years earlier dissented in the case District of Columbia vs. Heller that determined the Second Amendment allowed an individual right to bear arms. Stevens says he remains convinced that decision was wrong and debatable and provided the National Rifle Association with "a propaganda weapon of immense power."
Stevens' call for repeal of the Second Amendment goes further than most gun control advocates, many of whom have called for banning certain types of weapons, stricter background checks and age limits, but not changing the Constitution.
While Stevens claimed such an action would "be simple," it likely would be anything but. Amending the Constitution requires securing two-thirds majorities in both the House and the Senate — and then three-fourths of the states would have to ratify the amendment.
Stevens' proposal immediately lit up Twitter and social media.