Supreme Court Sends Out an Ominous Sign

Justin Lane/Pool via Reuters
Justin Lane/Pool via Reuters

With just a few days left in the law term and more than 20 rulings still to be issued, the Supreme Court once again left Americans on tenterhooks Thursday when it released just four opinions, not including its most eagerly awaited.

The justices, three of whom were appointed by Donald Trump, are still weighing Trump’s bid to be granted king-like immunity shielding him from prosecution for his role in the attempted coup on Jan. 6, 2021.

Each day that passes without a ruling sets prosecutors back in their efforts to put the former president on trial in D.C. federal court on four election subversion-related charges before the November election.

But the delay also suggests that there is something “rotten” within the court, Leah Litman, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, wrote in The New York Times on Wednesday.

Retired Generals Say Prospect of Trump Immunity Is Nation’s ‘Greatest Threat’

The justices are completing decisions at the second-slowest rate since the 1946 term, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. And yet they seem to have issued quick rulings in cases that benefit Republicans, Litman noted.

What’s more, Trump’s arguments in the immunity case were so “outlandish” that they should have been dispatched quickly, she wrote. His lawyers made a deranged claim that his time in the White House made him untouchable, even if he were to go so far as to assassinate a political rival, and they offered a nonsensical interpretation of the Constitution, claiming that it requires an impeachment before there can be any criminal prosecution.

Adding to the morass is a bitter rift emerging between conservative Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas over originalism, the act of interpreting the Constitution as it was intended to be understood at the time it was written. Although the pair arrived at the same decision in a minor ruling last week over a trademark dispute, Barrett went to great lengths to excoriate Thomas for his sloppy originalism.

While it hardly suggests that Barrett has abandoned her conservative standpoint, it does suggest that she could be ready to upend the court’s majority in some of its most important cases. “The tensions roiling major cases are bound to spill over into littler ones,” Slate reported.

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