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Justice

John Roberts, Associate Justices, SOTU
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts (L), along with associate justices ahead of President Joe Biden’s third State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, March 07, 2024. Photo credit: © Shawn Thew/POOL via ZUMA Press Wire

Even by taking up the question of whether presidents should enjoy total immunity, the Supreme Court could be influencing this year’s election in a major way.

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Donald Trump likes to claim that his criminal prosecutions (and his civil prosecutions, for that matter) are acts of “election interference.” What he wants people to believe is that his political foes are using the law to hurt his chances to win the election in November. On its face, that is patently ridiculous. If there is any judicial election interference at all this cycle, then the Supreme Court is the culprit. 

To understand why, let’s first dissect the former president’s argument. Not surprisingly, it’s full of holes and lies. 

As Trump tells it, the Biden administration orchestrated the various prosecutions against him. There is no shred of evidence suggesting that this happened. Instead, they followed the regular process of a prosecutor (three different ones in this case) presenting evidence to a grand jury, which then voted to indict the former president. 

In the New York trial alone, this arguably could (or should) have happened earlier or not at all. But it is also the most inconsequential of the four. 

That brings us to the second argument. 

Trump claims that the trials were timed to keep him off the campaign trail. However, for as much as he likes to talk (and write) about this alleged election interference, he has never answered the question as to why he and his highly paid legal team have tried to delay the trials so much.

First of all, it would seem that an innocent man who so clearly has truth and justice on his side would want to get in front of a jury as quickly as possible. Not Trump, though. 

Of course, anybody reading the indictments (or following his behavior in the aftermath of the election and leading up to January 6) knows that the former president is likely not so innocent after all. 

Therefore, his delaying tactic makes sense. If the respective juries are open-minded (which is admittedly a tall order), then Trump’s only chance of escaping serious accountability is to make it to the election in the hopes of winning and then manipulating the system to get off scot-free. 

However, as the Supreme Court’s decision to hold today’s oral arguments shows, he doesn’t even have to be president to make sure the system works in his favor — the high court’s conservative majority took care of that.

What the hearing is about is so dumb that it defies belief that the court would waste its time on taking up the matter. 

At issue is Trump’s argument that presidents should have total immunity for any actions, including illegal ones, they take while in office. So, for example, if Joe Biden actually wanted to engage in election interference, he would be immune to consequences. 

That is, of course, stupid. Lower courts have already ruled on the matter and rejected the former president’s claim. 

That should have been the end of it. 

However, the Supreme Court decided to hear the case itself. Now, if it rules against Trump (because anything else would be insanity), it might look as though the conservative justices — three of whom Trump appointed — are fair-minded. 

However, in this case, the damage may already have been done. If the court takes its sweet time to rule on this question, it is unlikely that the case against Trump for sparking the January 6 insurrection and trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election will conclude (and possibly not even start) before the election. 

And even if there is a quicker ruling, and if it does go against the former president, there may still not be time to conduct a trial so that the American people can see and understand what he did. 

All because the Supreme Court decided to take up the issue two months ago and therefore put proceedings on hold. 

You can call this whatever you want… blatant partisanship on the part of the high court’s conservative majority, a show of gratitude on the parts of the justices who owe their position to Trump, or, well, election interference.

Author

  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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