Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on Wednesday declined to discuss the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which President Donald Trump has been accused of violating.
“What is the purpose of the Emoluments Clause?” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Gorsuch during his Senate confirmation hearing.
“The Emoluments Clause, Senator, is not a clause that had attracted a lot of attention until recently,” Gorsuch said. “Among other things, it prohibits members of the government of this country from taking emoluments, gifts from foreign agents.”
The liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a lawsuit in January accusing Trump of violating the Emoluments Clause by leasing space to state-owned companies and obtaining loans from foreign state-owned banks.
Trump brushed off the lawsuit as “totally without merit.”
Gorsuch said on Wednesday that the exact meaning of that clause is currently the matter of “certainly threatened litigation, impending litigation” and declined to discuss it further.
“I have to be very careful about expressing any views,” Gorsuch said.
“It was done in order to exclude corruption and foreign influence, to prohibit anyone in office from receiving or holding any emoluments in foreign states,” Leahy pressed. “You wouldn’t be hesitant to discuss the Fourth Amendment or the Fifth Amendment, would you?”
“Well, I am hesitant to discuss any part of the Constitution to the extent we’re talking about a case that’s likely to come before a court, pending or impending,” Gorsuch said.