Looking for One Honest Mandamus
Last Wednesday, a federal judge hinted that he might have to toss out a case against future ex-President over the Constitution’s emolument clause. The clause prevents him from accepting money or property from a foreign government. Two Democratic politic action groups, which brought the case, would be out of court.
Yet, there may be hope. First, the judge mentioned that only Congress can prohibit the Opportunist-in-Chief from accepting foreign funds, quipped the judge, recognizing the irony in his pronouncement. This GOP Congress hasn’t demonstrated a lick of courage to stand up to the president, especially on issues many of the members know they should be addressing.
I don’t know if any private citizens have challenged Congress on its failure to act when the failure is on an issue as obvious as this. The Trump entities are raking it in. He’s still an owner. Unlike other presidents, he refused to give up his holdings or put them in a blind trust. He’s benefiting; he’s made no effort to hide it.
It should be a burning Congressional issue, but it’s not even being discussed. Committees should have been convened, hearings held. If the Republicans in Congress can’t get excited about Russia, they should wake up about actions that are clearly against the Constitution. Instead, the GOP House is fleeing, many retiring and not take a drubbing in November and be left in campaign debt.
There may never have been a cabinet member deserving of censure, if not impeachment, more than Scott Pruitt. He has abused his office, drawing favors from lobbyists, spending a sick amount on luxury items. His $40,000.00 phone booth smacks of Maxwell Smart. He’s given extravagant raises to his aides. Clearly, he has abused his office and violated the public trust.
For that reason, Congress should vote to impeach Pruitt, because he won’t quit and his boss won’t cut him loose. What if the plaintiffs sue to force Congress to impeach Pruitt and take action against Trump for rampant violations of the clause?
It would be a bold stroke for any judge to order Congress to act. Unprecedented, in fact. However, it would bite Democrats as well as Republicans. And with a Chief Executive who refuses to execute the laws and a Congress that violates its oath to protect the Constitution, only the courts remain to enforce the law of the land. Unfortunately with for years between presidential campaigns, four years is an eternity, and the damage done may be irreversible. A court can’t act on its own initiative. It needs a case in front of it.
My suggestion is that the plaintiffs amend their lawsuit to seek a writ of mandamus (an order to compel) the Congress to take action to enforce the emoluments clause and to impeach. Secretary Pruitt.
Congress will push back, claiming that it is a political question, and the courts have no business entering into it. Nevertheless it’s time to call the question. We have a cowardly Congress, a corrupt EPA Secretary and a President smiling like a Cheshire Cat. Four years is too long to wait to throw the rascals out.