Why States Cannot Sue Trump in District Court


by Oren Long, ©2019

Image: National Archives

(Jul. 31, 2019) — When the Founders wrote Article III of the Constitution they specified three types of cases that can ONLY originate with and be heard by the Supreme Court, including cases where a State sues the United States (Federal Government).   They clearly did not want District and/or Appellate Courts, possibly subject to personal/local biases or prejudices, hearing cases of such national importance.

This is important in light of the many lawsuits filed against President Trump and his administration in Federal District Court, by various States, over everything from Muslim Immigration, the border, Sanctuary Cities, DACA, Net Neutrality, and other issues.

Article III, Section Two, Paragraph Two, Sentences One and Two state, “In ALL (emphasis added) cases affecting Ambassadors, other Public Ministers and Consuls, AND THOSE IN WHICH A STATE SHALL BE PARTY (emphasis added), the Supreme Court SHALL (emphasis added) have ORIGINAL (emphasis added) Jurisdiction.    In all the other cases . . . the Supreme Court shall have Appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact . . . “.

The above CLEARLY means that NO Federal District or Appellate Court can hear a case where a State sues the Federal Government, PERIOD!   In legal parlance, it’s called “Improper Venue,” meaning that Federal District Courts have no “Standing” to hear the case.   Given that President Trump is the ‘head’ of the Federal Government, any State suing Trump or his Administration is, in fact, suing the Federal Government.   Ergo, said State MUST file directly with the Supreme Court and NOT in District Court.

Presumably, this would also apply to Sanctuary Cities (as sub-components of States) that sue Trump or his administration AND cases filed by non-government organizations where a State files a “Friend of the Court” brief in support of the suing organization, making said State a “Party” to the suit.

In turn, this means that President Trump can legally and Constitutionally IGNORE any “Inferior Court” (Founders’ Constitutional definition, Article III, Section One) ruling, unless and until the Supreme Court takes the case and rules against him.  IF the Supreme Court refuses the case, the President’s orders stand.

Further, IF this Clause of the Constitution was enforced, the Supreme Court would quickly tire of these endless “State vs. Trump” cases and refuse to hear them, meaning that Trump’s Executive Orders would stand.  AND the States, realizing this, would stop filing these frivolous lawsuits.   IT’S THAT SIMPLE!

I asked an attorney about this and he told me that this Section of Article III was negated by the Eleventh Amendment.   BS!   The Eleventh Amendment was written to cover an oversight by the Founders when they wrote Article III (the judiciary).   The Eleventh Amendment covers ONLY cases where a citizen of one State sues another State and/or where a foreigner sues one or more States, but not the Federal Government.

That said, I would not be surprised if the Supreme Court, in some long-past case, unilaterally ruled that Article III, Section Two, Paragraph Two somehow, magically, mysteriously does not really mean what it so clearly DOES mean.   If so, it is long past time to re-visit the issue.

Why does the President not know this?   He is relying on legal advice from his legal team who either don’t know or don’t want him to know.   In either case, it’s bad advice.   I am reminded of an old saying, “When you control what a man knows, you control what he thinks.”

Personally, I have long suspected that the President’s legal team may have closet Never Trumpers posing as supporters.   As Sherlock Holmes so famously said, “When all other possibilities are eliminated, the only one remaining, however improbable, is probably the truth.”

One Response to "Why States Cannot Sue Trump in District Court"

  1. Dennis Becker   Thursday, August 1, 2019 at 7:37 PM

    “In ALL (emphasis added) …IN WHICH A STATE SHALL BE PARTY”

    Does that mean that when Brooke Paige sued the Vermont Secretary of State the case should have gone straight to the Supreme Court?

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