In a 58-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan allowed the lawmakers to sue the president for allegedly flouting the Constitution’s emoluments clause, according to Reuters.
After Trump was elected president in 2016, he stepped down from running his $3 billion real estate empire while retaining his ownership interests.
The lawmakers suing Trump say that violates the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from receiving payments or gifts from foreign governments without Congress’s permission, according to Bloomberg.
In addition, The Washington Post notes that some of Trump’s properties benefit from investments or business from foreign governments.
For instance, Trump’s D.C. hotel has hosted leaders from Kuwait, Malaysia and other countries.
The ruling is the second decision by a federal court that allows the president to be sued, according to The Associated Press.
In July a federal judge in Maryland ruled that a similar lawsuit against Trump filed by attorneys general in Maryland and the District of Columbia could proceed. That suit covers only Trump’s earnings from his hotel in Washington.
Although the president has not asked Congress to approve any transactions his businesses have with foreign states, his attorneys have argued it’s not necessary because the payments he receives through the hotel and other businesses are not emoluments, according to the definition the Founding Fathers would have used, according to The Washington Post.
Trump is being represented by Justice Department attorneys, who asked Sullivan to dismiss the suit, saying Congress could simply pass a bill barring the president from accepting such compensation.
Reuters said the members of Congress suing Trump are all Democrats, except for Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.