Supreme Court Faces 'High Stakes' Decisions On Trump-Related Cases

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Apr 05, 2024 - 10:20 PM

Authored by Sam Dorman via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

President Joe Biden issued a rare primetime threat to the Supreme Court during his State of the Union address on March 7, warning the justices that they could cause political backlash for their 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

With all due respect, justices, women are not without electoral or political power,” President Biden said.

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Getty Images)

In doing so, the president amplified that mounting pressure on the Supreme Court, a pressure that seems to build each week as the election nears and the queue of cases related to former President Donald Trump gets longer.

The justices are taking up two major appeals related to President Trump, who is the presumptive GOP nominee and is leading President Biden in polling matchups, including in crucial battleground states.

President Trump’s former advisors are also facing multiple charges, raising the prospect that some may request the high court’s intervention, as former White House advisor Peter Navarro did on March 15. The court’s denial made Mr. Navarro the first Trump White House adviser to end up in prison.

This is certainly a blockbuster year for the court,” Heritage Foundation Vice President John Malcolm told The Epoch Times.

“Several of the justices, most notably the Chief Justice, have been concerned about the public’s perception of the court’s ‘legitimacy,’ so it will be interesting to see how the justices respond, especially in an important election year.”

‘High Stakes’

The combination of several Trump-related cases, the potential for landmark changes to legal precedent, the vigorous calls for reform, and the coming elections have made 2024 a year of high impact decisions for the court.

One decision has already impacted the course of the 2024 presidential campaign.

In March, the justices rejected an effort that could have resulted in millions of President Trump’s supporters not having their preferred candidate on the ballot. During oral argument, Justice Amy Coney Barrett referenced the “very high stakes” surrounding the case, which has been described as the court’s most influential election-related matter since Bush v. Gore.

Its landmark opinion in Trump v. Anderson foreclosed the possibility that states like Colorado could, under their existing authority, remove federal candidates from ballots.

The Supreme Court in Washington on March 22, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

The majority opinion, however, has been criticized for lacking clarity around how Congress should act. The decision emphasized the role of Congress in enforcing the 14th Amendment, while the three liberal justices and Justice Barrett favored a more limited approach that overruled state authority over federal candidates for office.

President Trump’s immunity appeal, scheduled for oral argument on April 25, could impact his Florida documents case and hush money trial, wherein he has requested a delay pending the Supreme Court’s decision on his D.C. immunity claims.

The stinging criticism that followed the court’s unanimous opinion in Trump v. Anderson indicates no matter how united the justices are, they will continue to face heavy scrutiny—especially when it comes to President Trump.

President Trump’s appeal, like Mr. Navarro’s, questions the separation of powers as well as the authority of the legislative and judiciary branches in challenging the executive.

In Trump v. Anderson, the court avoided wading into the specifics of President Trump’s alleged wrongdoing on Jan. 6 and will likely try to do the same with his immunity appeal. But their decisions in two other cases might impact the indictment in President Trump’s federal election case.

A challenge brought by Jan. 6 defendants against the DOJ’s use of an Enron-era obstruction charge in prosecutions will be heard before the high court on April 16.

In the federal election case, two of those charges were brought against President Trump. If the court rules in the defendants’ favor, as some legal experts predict, that could lessen the burden for President Trump in D.C. while also provoking scrutiny of the justices’ approach to Jan. 6.

The court’s decision in the presidential immunity appeal could similarly either upend or affirm the prosecution—likely sparking backlash from either side depending on the outcome.

Beyond Trump

Besides President Trump’s cases, the court is considering several major cases in administrative law—including potentially overturning the decades-old Chevron doctrine that gives deference to agencies in construing vague language in statutes. A reversal would significantly roll back the power of the administrative state.

Former President Donald Trump talks to the press outside the courtroom at the New York State Supreme Court in New York City on Oct. 2, 2023. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

In February, it considered whether the Justice Department legally restricted bump stocks. The case, Garland v. Cargill, was the second of three major gun-related cases announced for the term. Two—Cargill and Rahimi v. United States—could alter who owns guns and how they operate them. The third, NRA v. Vullo, could make it easier or more difficult for governments to pressure organizations like those promoting gun rights.

The justices also heard arguments over the constitutionality of two sweeping social media laws from Texas and Florida that, combined with similar cases this term, could dramatically change the landscape of online expression.

In striking those laws, the justices could prevent future state legislation aimed at how social media platforms moderate users’ content and the transparency they provide for censoring certain posts. If laws succeed, social media platforms could see a patchwork of rules for moderating users’ content across the United States and enjoy less discretion in how they do so.

“These are cases that touch upon separation of powers and important constitutional rights, in addition to involving ‘hot button’ issues that will have a major impact on the law now and in the future,” Mr. Malcolm told The Epoch Times.

Court’s Image

With such contentious issues before the court, it seems inevitable that the justices’ decisions will upset large swaths of the American public. The justices could also be weighing how the way they phrase rulings will impact public opinion during such a high-stakes year.

University of Michigan Law Professor Barbara McQuade previously told The Epoch Times she imagined that with Trump v. Anderson, Justice Roberts felt pressure to “maintain the credibility of the Court as an independent and apolitical institution.”

She said “a 9–0 decision would provide the country with far more confidence than would a 6–3 decision.”

Justice Barrett emphasized the importance of unanimity and language while appearing to offer a glimpse into the justices’ concerns. Her concurring opinion in Trump v. Anderson seemed to criticize her colleagues for lacking restraint in their opinion. She had joined the liberal justices in favoring a more limited approach but didn’t sign onto their concurrence, which had some strong words for the majority.

“In my judgment, this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency,” she wrote. “The Court has settled a politically charged issue in the volatile season of a Presidential election. Particularly in this circumstance, writings on the Court should turn the national temperature down, not up. For present purposes, our differences are far less important than our unanimity: All nine Justices agree on the outcome of this case. That is the message Americans should take home.”

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