The Supreme Court's slow decision on Trump's immunity is the alternative of politics

Frustration is growing because the country waits – and waits and waits – for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Trump against the United Statesthe case, which concerns whether the previous president is immune from criminal prosecution for his activities within the wake of the 2020 elections.

For the left: The delay seems each political and deliberateone other example of how conservative lawyers within the court's majority opinion are helping Trump avoid responsibility that might otherwise have been unavoidable.

I get it. The court’s refusal to simply accept the case when Special Counsel Jack Smith first requested it in December 2023; Oral hearing scheduled for end of April 2024; and the months which have passed and not using a decision have made it quite likely that Donald Trump is not going to be placed on trial for his alleged coup any time soon. This has consequences.

But that doesn’t mean the court should deviate from its usual approach. Asking the judges to maneuver away from their usual sluggish pace is asking them to do exactly what critics complain about – to be political.

Here's why.

Difficult questions take time

When the Supreme Court comes to a decision, it’s inevitably answering a really difficult legal query. If the answers were clear, the case would never have been the topic of litigation before the Supreme Court.

The court is usually not concerned with deciding a particular winner or loser, but quite formulates general legal principles that guide lower courts, other branches of presidency, and even the American people. The court suggested it was the larger picture when it expanded the legal query from whether a former president is immune from prosecution to how far that immunity should extend. The final ruling could have implications far beyond Donald Trump.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Trump v. United States will impact Special Counsel Jack Smith’s (left) prosecution of former President Donald Trump.
Saul Loeb and Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images

While hearingJustice Neil Gorsuch brushed aside the ugly details of what Trump allegedly did and insisted that the court was “writing a rule for the ages.” The commentary drew anger by legal commentators for trivializing Trump’s alleged crimes, but as Supreme Court ScholarI feel it was exactly right.

Since the legal query now also included the query “To what extent does the President enjoy immunity?”, the case could now not be answered with a single “yes” or “no”.

This case raises big questions on the separation of powers, presidential power, and the rule of law. The Supreme Court must transform these constitutional principles right into a workable legal doctrine that applies well beyond the 2024 election. Crafting such a rule is difficult and takes time.

This rule should be developed and justified through the rigour of legal discourse, which relies on rigorously constructed logic, sober evaluation and appropriate use of precedent. Determining whether, how and why previous cases affect a call is arduous, let alone explaining.

There's a reason why court opinions might be greater than 100 pages long: they’ve to supply rattling good reasons for his or her decisions.

Quick decisions rarely delay

Supreme Court decisions are never the results of a single factor. No matter what number of critics claim that the justices resolve cases based primarily or solely on their political ideology, the evidence simply doesn’t support this.

Leaving aside the plain recent cases during which the conservativedominated court acted in favor of more progressive interestsDecades of empirical research from Legal policy scientists like me have shown that the Supreme Court justices aren’t just what some call “Politicians in robeswho vote for the party line and use the law only as a fig leaf that obscures their ideology.

Instead, they’re highly qualified legal thinkers who work throughout the boundaries of the political environment And the law.

Perhaps one ignores Justice Clarence Thomas, whose outsider status became all of the more evident when he expressed his dissent in a solo that individuals with domestic violence restraining orders must have access to guns, judges must rigorously consider the preferences of others, including: other members of the court, Congress and the chief branch, and the American voters.

If the court blindly follows its own political preferences, there may be a risk of a backlash from the opposite branches and a Loss of public trust.

There have been quick decisions by the court, but they do occur every jubilee 12 months and infrequently get up to legal evaluation or history.

Penetrating the fog

Police officers in riot gear in front of a large white building with columns.
Police officers in riot gear outside the Supreme Court on December 11, 2000, because the court heard a case that might resolve the 2000 presidential election.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Bush vs. Goreduring which the judges needed only two days to make a decision on the legally contested presidential election of 2000, was so poorly founded that the Court itself said to never have a look at it again.

Scientists have more respect for the court's ruling from 1974, 16 days after the oral hearing. that President Richard Nixon needed to release the Watergate tapes to law enforcement, but that call left numerous legal questions on executive privilege unanswered. These questions were later raised in court by Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

A subsequent legal dispute is just not at all times problematic. But it may – as many claim, is occurring here – create the use and abuse of the legal system to avoid legal consequences. One of the the explanation why Trump made it to the Supreme Court was because a very powerful previous ruling during which the court acquitted Nixon of civil liabilitymay or may not apply to the allegations against Trump.

In the present Trump case, the court faces a difficult task. Both sides agree that a former president can’t be prosecuted for exercising “central executive functions” similar to the presidential pardon and appointment powers. Both sides also agree that he be prosecuted for all illegal acts committed in private lifeand never with official duties, similar to recruiting Rudy Giuliani to assist challenge the election results.

That is a big area of ​​overlap between the opposing sides on this case. But between those poles lies an unlimited fog of presidential activities that will or is probably not subject to the scrutiny of the legal system. The court must penetrate that fog, and accomplish that thoroughly.

The good legal decision required here is not going to be easy to formulate. If the court ignores the trimmings of judicial decision-making and easily sends Trump off with a wave and a kiss goodbye, with full—or no—immunity in his pocket, its own institutional legitimacy would sink even further.

The justices must face this moment and choose whether a president is above the law. But they must also bear in mind that they, too, are subject to the gauntlet of legal reasoning and jurisprudence. A hasty, sloppy decision could have damaging effects far beyond what Trump might need done three and a half years ago.

In view of Trump’s potentially unconstitutional actions threatened with If re-elected, the country will need a robust and revered Supreme Court within the near future. Those offended on the court needs to be very blissful that it’s business as usual. Otherwise, their fear that Trump will get away with anything may very well come true.

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