March 30, 2017

The Emoluments Clause, the Impeachment Clause and the 25th Amendment, all provisions to the U.S. Constitution, have taken on new scrutiny under the Trump administration. A panel comprised of Cardozo faculty and legal experts spoke to a capacity crowd about these issues in the Jacob Burns Moot Courtroom March 28, assessing the current state of affairs involving President Trump and issues that have come into the spotlight since his inauguration.

The Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy sponsored the event, which former Dean David Rudenstine helped organize, with Professor Kate Shaw serving as moderator. The five-person panel consisted of Cardozo Law’s Michael Herz, Arthur Kaplan Professor of Law; John D. Feerick, Norris Professor of Law and Former Dean, Fordham University School of Law; Deepak Gupta, Founding Principal, Gupta Wessler PLLC and Attorney for the Plaintiff, in Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Trump; Richard Painter, S. Walter Richey Professor of Corporate Law, University of Minnesota Law School and former Associate Counsel to the President; and Michael Waldman, President, Brennan Center for Justice.

The Emoluments Clause is the basis of a pending lawsuit against the President; the Impeachment Clause addresses that the President can be removed from office by Congress for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors;” and the 25th Amendment creates a mechanism to remove the President if he “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Gupta claims Trump is “in violation of both the emoluments clause and the impeachment clause.” Foreign diplomats patronizing the Trump hotels in Washington D.C., is a direct example of these violations.

Professor Herz told the audience that despite the numerous recent claims that Trump has violated the Constitution, “violating the Constitution is not an impeachable offense and not all crimes are impeachable offenses—but impeachable offenses have to be crimes.”

Treason and bribery are considered impeachable. The panel also discussed the question of an individual’s actions prior to taking office and the legal ramifications for those actions being cause for impeachment.

Professor Herz pointed out that former President Clinton’s impeachment over the Monica Lewinksy scandal prompted questions over his actions and if they were considered impeachable offenses versus, simply, deplorable behavior.