A lawsuit against Donald Trump stemming from his time overseeing the NBC reality show “The Apprentice” can move forward, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.
“A panel of judges on the Supreme Court Appellate Division said in their ruling, in a case brought by Summer Zervos, that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution doesn’t require trials in state court to be delayed until the president is out of office,” the AP reports.
Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” accused Trump of unwanted kissing and groping on the set of the TV show and later sued him for defamation. The appeals court decision raises the possibility that a sitting president could be called for sworn questioning, the AP reports.
“Citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling two decades ago in a case involving alleged sexual misconduct by President Bill Clinton, a majority of judges on the panel said presidents can be sued in state courts over things they did that aren’t related to their official duties,” the story reports.
In an opinion written by Justice Dianne T. Renwick, the judges said: “The current sitting President attempts to shield himself from consequences for his alleged unofficial misconduct by relying upon the constitutional protection of the Presidency. We reject defendant President Trump’s argument that the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution prevents a New York State court — and every other state court in the country — from exercising its authority under its state constitution. Instead, we find that the Supremacy Clause was never intended to deprive a state court of its authority to decide cases and controversies under the state’s constitution.”
The AP adds: “Two of the five justices on the panel, Peter Tom and Angela M. Mazzarelli, said in a dissent, written by Mazzarelli, that subjecting the president to a state trial court’s jurisdiction ‘interferes with his ability to carry out his constitutional duty of executing the laws of the United States.’”
An appeal is expected.