NEW YORK (AP) — Lawyers for restaurant workers and restaurants in New York and Washington, D.C., are asking a federal appeals court in Manhattan to reinstate a lawsuit that claims President Donald Trump has business conflicts that violate the Constitution.
The lawyers, saying the workers and restaurants compete with Trump’s businesses, asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Tuesday to let their claims go forward.
A lower-court judge tossed them out in December, saying it was too early to bring the claims and that it was an issue better left to Congress to resolve.
“Far from being premature, the plaintiffs’ claims present an issue in urgent need of judicial review,” the lawyers wrote. “Faced with flagrant, ongoing violations of the Constitution — violations causing them personal, economic injury — the plaintiffs are not required to wait and see if Congress takes action.”
The lawyers wrote on appeal that Trump has acted unlawfully by accepting profits from foreign and domestic officials through his hotels and restaurants while in office. They said that’s illegal unless Congress consents.
They said he has consistently used his position to advertise his properties, in part by visiting one of them every three days on average.
“The President is engaging in illegal conduct that makes patronizing his hotels and restaurants more attractive to governmental officials. Businesses that compete with those properties therefore face intensified competition with respect to that class of customers,” said the lawyers, who represent nearly 200 restaurants and 25,000 restaurant employees, along with other plaintiffs that compete with Trump’s businesses.
A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately return a message seeking comment. The Justice Department has not yet filed its arguments with the appeals court. After oral arguments, the 2nd Circuit will rule, likely months from now.
Last month, a federal judge in Washington let Maryland and the District of Columbia proceed with a similar lawsuit but narrowed its scope to the Trump International Hotel in Washington. That judge rejected the lawsuit’s effort to include properties outside of Washington.
A third lawsuit has been filed against Trump on the issue by nearly 200 Democratic members of Congress.