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Election interference

The U.S. Supreme Court puts its foot on the scales of justice, to benefit Trump


The U.S. Supreme Court, as has become its pattern in recent years, acted recklessly last week when it announced it would hear former president Donald Trump’s claim that he is immune from all criminal acts he may have committed during his presidency.
We already know the decision that the Supreme Court will ultimately issue. The court will decide consistent with the rulings of District Court Judge Tanya Chutkin as well as the three-judge panel of the D.C. Appeals Court, all of whom concluded in no uncertain terms that Donald Trump’s claim of immunity for his efforts to overturn a free and fair election to remain in power is preposterous and opposed to every relevant provision of the U.S. Constitution and the very notion that no one is above the law.
Virtually every judge in America (Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito being the only potential exceptions) and, indeed, every person with a reasonable understanding of how the American government functions, would recognize that Trump’s argument is not just fallacious, but actively un-American.
The Supreme Court, even with a 6-3 conservative majority, will concur— if and when they finally get around to it. And that’s the problem with the high court’s decision to not only hear, but to intentionally slow walk, the case. In the wake of an exceptionally strong ruling by the D.C. Court of Appeals on this question, the Supreme Court offers nothing of value to the question, other than delay.
And that, from the beginning, has been Trump’s legal strategy. It’s a strategy he’s used for decades to escape legal accountability for years of grifting disguised as “business.” For Trump, justice delayed is justice avoided. For the American people, it is now likely to be justice denied.
With oral arguments set for the week of April 22, the criminal prosecution for Trump’s conspiracy to interfere in the transfer of power to president-elect Joe Biden, may now very well never go forward, despite the voluminous and compelling testimony, documentation, and other evidence assembled by special prosecutor Jack Smith. Indeed, the American people who will decide the next president may now have to make that decision without a full understanding of the attempted coup undertaken by the previous president. Donald Trump was scheduled to stand trial for his crimes and the U.S. Supreme Court handed him a veritable “get-out-of-jail-free” card even as they sit fully aware that his claims of immunity are meritless.
This is worse than Bush v. Gore, the last time the Supreme Court opted to intervene in an American presidential election. In the 2000 election, neither of the candidates had plotted criminal acts to overturn the election. Neither was facing criminal prosecution and it’s difficult to imagine that prior court actively choosing to interfere in such a prosecution.
But this is a high court that routinely dismisses precedent, ignores settled law, and actively rejects the tradition of judicial modesty, which holds that courts should only enter the fray when there is no way to avoid it.
The D.C. appellate court had no choice in taking the case. The Supreme Court always has that choice, and the justices are fully aware that their decision to do so here could very well run out the clock on this prosecution. Polls have shown that a felony conviction against Trump, particularly for his efforts to overturn the last presidential election, would almost certainly sink his candidacy, as well it should. The Supreme Court, by agreeing to hear the case, appears intent on sparing Trump that ignominy. It is putting its foot on the political scale to a degree that no prior court has done, at least since 2000.
Keep in mind, the special prosecutor had asked the Supreme Court late last year to rule on Trump’s immunity claim on an expedited basis, but the court declined to take up the case, allowing it to go to the D.C. appellate panel instead. That makes the high court’s decision to take up the case now appear almost certainly intended to delay Trump’s prosecution, for political purposes. For a court, that’s the definition of corrupt intent.
In large part because Trump is a corrupt individual, he would likely use his power, should he be elected again, to immediately dismiss the cases against him, both for election interference and for conspiring to retain classified documents and obstruct justice. Most other presidents have avoided interfering in legal cases, but Trump has made abuse of power part of this appeal to the MAGA base. Should Trump take office again, he’ll populate his administration with yes men and feel emboldened to engage in even worse criminality.
Sadly, there’s one thing the Supreme Court’s decision last week almost guarantees. Should Trump be elected again, the high court has no intention of checking the power of a dangerous fool. America could soon be in real trouble.