A new complaint alleging injury to specific plaintiffs – U.S. citizens and their Yemini relatives – has been filed in federal district court in California. This complaint adds an interesting ingredient to those already filed against Trump’s Muslim ban Executive Order: It specifies that Donald Trump’s breach of the Emoluments Clause directly motivated his decision about which countries to include in (and exclude from) the Executive Orders banning entry into the U.S. If this ground of the complaint is ultimately upheld, and the case is decided against Trump on this basis, it would establish in federal court that Donald Trump’s unconstitutional violation of the Emoluments Clause is directly harming U.S. citizens. That’s some hefty “ifs” and we won’t have resolution of the case any time soon. But just spelling out how Trump’s unconstitutional acceptance of gifts and favors from foreign entities is influencing his administration, and causing harm to specific individuals, shows how private individuals might well have standing to sue Trump on this issue.
Below, I’ve annotated the complaint with non-lawyer readers in mind. I’ve paid special notice to the development of the grounds and argument connecting Trump’s breach of the Emoluments Clause, the content of his Muslim ban Executive Orders, and how that combination yields discrete injury to distinct individuals.