For a Change a Political Supreme Court Might be a Win

Elections Supreme Court

            Pearl River      The US Supreme Court cloaks itself in the pretense of by-the-book law, but often it seems mostly adept at backroom politics.  On many levels, that’s the nature of the game.  For a Justice to prevail, as opposed to say, justice prevailing, it takes five votes to win.  There’s a reason they call their decisions “opinions,” rather than anything else.  Whatever they put on paper might be heavily rationalized and larded down with citations and subterfuge, but they are still just opinions, subject to change and the way the political winds blow.  Often that’s a painful problem with good current examples being about choice and guns, but when it comes to former president Trump’s legal situation and shenanigans, it may be just what we need.

Here’s the current lineup.  We have two big potential cases coming to the court.  One is Trump’s preposterous claims that a former president has immunity from criminal charges.  The other is whether Colorado and maybe other states have the power to remove him from the ballot as a candidate for president.

In the hearing before the Court, a number of justices seemed skeptical that a state would have the authority to remove someone from the ballot for a federal office.  That almost seems nitpicky, not because it’s wrong, but because I’m not sure what mechanism would exist to take a federal candidate off the ballot?  Would it be Congress?  If so, this will never happen, or if it did, it would be on a strictly partisan basis, and no good would come of that.  It’s an academic question about a political matter.  I’ve been clear, Trump needs to be on the ballot.  The only way to ever beat Trump, once and for all, is at the polls with American voters delivering their verdict with finality.  Denying him a place on the ballot would threaten our democracy and bring all manner of crazies out of the woodwork.  We would have major and mini-January 6th outbreaks all over the place.  Who in their right mind wants that?

On immunity, the Court of Appeals based in DC, which is the most prestigious appeals court, in a unanimous opinion by three judges appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents, made mincemeat of Trump and his lawyers’ arguments that he was immune from criminal cases because he had been president.  They ridiculed his notion that having been elected once, he now had a lifetime “get out of jail” card.  Their long opinion eviscerated every argument made by his lawyers, giving the Supreme Court little wiggle room to overturn, even if they wanted to do so.  Furthermore, they can avoid this problem altogether by simply refusing to take up the case and allowing the appeal’s decision to stand.

Here’s where the politics of the Court come front and center.  They can be Solomon-like and split the pickle, letting him on the ballot, and denying his claims for immunity.  They don’t have to say his arguments are absurd.  The appeals court has pretty much already done that.  They can just piggyback on the appeals court’s arguments and be done with it.

For the rest of us, this works.  First, because for us, it’s not just politics, but what is right.  Secondly, because it speeds up the other cases Trump faces, especially for his role in January 6th, which are now in abeyance because of his immunity Hail Mary pass.  Let’s be done with all of this, and move on to the next stages of both trials and the election.