Appellate Jurisdiction and the Emoluments Litigation

29 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2020

See all articles by Adam Steinman

Adam Steinman

University of Alabama - School of Law

Date Written: June 18, 2020


This article — part of a symposium on federal appellate procedure — addresses questions of appellate jurisdiction that have played an important role in litigation challenging Donald Trump’s conduct under the Constitution’s Emoluments Clauses. When federal trial judges in the District of Columbia and Maryland rejected Trump’s early attempts to dismiss two of these cases, Trump sought immediate relief from the federal courts of appeals rather than allowing the litigation to proceed in the district courts. The lack of a traditional final judgment, however, prompted difficult jurisdictional issues for the D.C. Circuit and the Fourth Circuit.

In both cases, the relationship between appellate mandamus and the certification process set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) has figured prominently. And both cases led to problematic decisions on this issue. The D.C. Circuit deployed an under-scrutinized but increasingly common tactic that this article calls a mandamus “nudge,” which ultimately persuaded the D.C. district court on remand to certify its orders for immediate appeal under § 1292(b) after initially refusing to do so. In the Fourth Circuit, the initial three-judge panel went even further — using mandamus to overturn the district court’s refusal to certify its orders under § 1292(b) and to treat the case as if the district court had provided the certification necessary for an immediate appeal. The en banc Fourth Circuit correctly rejected this move by the initial panel, but the issue is now headed for the Supreme Court.

Keywords: appellate jurisdiction, mandamus, emoluments, interlocutory, appeals, 1292(b), trump

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Steinman, Adam, Appellate Jurisdiction and the Emoluments Litigation (June 18, 2020). Akron Law Review, Vol. 53, No. 659, 2020, U of Alabama Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3635120, Available at SSRN:

Adam Steinman (Contact Author)

University of Alabama - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 870382
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States

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