Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 2019


Kaiser, H. J. (2019). President Trump and civil litigation: Executive immunity and the emoluments clause. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Hayley Kaiser, 2019.


President Trump has become immersed in civil litigation since announcing his candidacy for the United States presidency. These lawsuits, which include assertions of presidential immunity under state jurisdiction and claims of constitutional violations under the Emoluments Clauses, present unique legal concerns that have never been challenged in the Supreme Court. Precedent shows that the president has never been exempt from the judicial process for his unofficial actions, although this may have led to unforeseen consequences. An evaluation of the history of the Emoluments Clauses leads to the conclusion that the Framers wanted to prevent outside influence on the United States and its government officials, especially the president. Taking into consideration the legal and constitutional merits of the individual cases as well as the likelihood for politically motivated decision-making, I assert that the Supreme Court is likely to narrowly conclude that the president does not have temporary immunity in state tribunals. I apply similar analysis to the Emoluments Clause cases and determine that the Supreme Court would decide in opposition to the president considering the text and meaning of the Constitution or in favor of the president if they are motivated by their partisan interests. The civil litigation that is currently occurring could serve as a necessary restraint on the powers of the president or allow him to continue his abuses of power unchecked.