Tuesday, July 02, 2024

With luck, we might get a king ...

 The presidential seal against a blue background.

“The relationship between the president and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her impassioned dissent in Trump v. United States.
Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times

With luck, we might get a king or better yet, a dictator as the president, regarding official acts conducted by same, means said entity is above the law. something most disconcerting without question. 

The Supreme Court’s decision to bestow presidents with immunity from prosecution over official actions is an extraordinary expansion of executive power that will reverberate long after Donald J. Trump is gone.

Beyond its immediate implications for the election subversion case against Mr. Trump and the prospect that he may feel less constrained by law if he returns to power, the ruling also adds to the nearly relentless rise of presidential power since the mid-20th century.

It had seemed like a constitutional truism in recent years when more than one lower-court opinion addressing novel legal issues raised by Mr. Trump’s norm-breaking behavior observed that presidents are not kings. But suddenly, they do enjoy a kind of monarchical prerogative.

“The relationship between the president and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in an outraged dissent joined by the court’s other two liberals. “In every use of official power, the president is now a king above the law.”

A ripped picture of a gavel on top, with the bottom half of Donald Trump’s face below.

Ricardo Tomás

It gets better ... as this court sees itself as something other than a participant in our democratic system. It sees itself as the enforcer of the separation of powers, but not itself subject to that separation.

As a searing dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor makes clear, some of the more extreme hypotheticals from the oral arguments in this case are no longer purely hypothetical. She writes that this newly fashioned presidential immunity “lies about like a loaded weapon” (quoting from a dissent in an earlier decision, Korematsu v. United States) for any president who “wishes to place his own interests, his own political survival or his own financial gain above the interests of the nation.” A president “orders the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune.”

It is one thing for an aspiring president to promise lawlessness. The only way to deliver on that promise is with a willing and cooperative court. It appears that Mr. Trump has one.

As often said by yours truly, this is the worst SC in history.

Addendum: The Watergate hearings investigating the break-in would be moot as all the activities Nixon did including taping all conversations were, in effect, official acts conducted by the president.

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