Law Profs Brawl Over Trump “Emoluments” Lawsuit
October 4, 2017
When an Irish law professor filed an amicus brief defending Donald Trump in the lawsuit that accuses Trump of violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, he got a sharp rejoinder from some U.S. legal scholars. The Irishman, Seth Barrett Tillman from the law department of Maynooth University, argued that some of the framers did not intend for the emoluments clause to apply to the president, citing as evidence a document said to have been written by Alexander Hamilton. The response was “swift and brutal,” as New York Time writer Adam Liptak describes it, coming close to dismissing the professor as a crackpot. Tilman, in a court filing, acknowledges he is a “lonely scholar with unusual ideas, who is unaffiliated with the popular, the organized and the wealthy,” but he patently rejects the critique from the Americans and says he stands by every syllable of what he wrote. Upon further review, one of the critics concluded that Tilman was on firm ground after all and issued a heartfelt apology of a sort seldom seen in politics or academia. In the end, Liptak observes, despite the heat generated by the controversy, it is unlikely to affect the outcome of the lawsuit. No matter where Hamilton came down on the question, both sides of this case agree that the emoluments clause does apply to the president. What they argue about is whether any significant transactions in Donald Trump’s labyrinthine and somewhat opaque business history can be construed as emoluments.
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