Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Donald Trump’s “Catch and Kill” Colluders at the U.S. Supreme Court

There’s a reason the right-wing justices are eager to support Trump’s senseless arguments on presidential immunity.


They fooled me completely.

When the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Donald Trump’s presidential immunity defense, I, an experienced lawyer and devout follower of legal developments, believed that the court had only accepted the case in order to buy time for Trump.

I was sure the right-wing justices—having ensured that the election overthrow prosecution would not go to trial until after November—would ultimately reject Trump’s outlandish claim that a president can commit crimes with impunity.

Wrong. At the oral argument of the case, the conservatives quietly embraced the notion that a president could face no criminal penalties even for ordering the assassination of a political rival or directing the military to stage a coup. 

They were unfazed by an argument that our president needed to enjoy the immunity of a king although the Constitution says not one word about immunity. 

And, in a mind-numbing reversal of reality, Justice Alito argued that presidential immunity was required so presidents could “leave office peacefully” and to avoid a cycle of events that “destabilizes the functioning of our country as a democracy.”

Could the right-wing justices have failed to notice that the petitioner in this very case, Donald Trump, did not seek to “go off into peaceful retirement”? That instead he launched a vicious campaign of lies to reverse the election, based on election-fraud allegations found to be groundless in 60 cases?

Could they have forgotten that “the functioning of our country as a democracy” had in fact been “destabilized”—by the petitioner before their court, Donald Trump—when he wrongly persuaded tens of millions of followers that they had been cheated, and when the mob he had summoned to Washington invaded the Capitol to halt the peaceful transfer of power?

No one can seriously believe the actual events that brought the case before the Supreme Court matter less than Justice Alito’s upside down theory. No one can believe that granting immunity for the very crimes that had literally destabilized our functioning as a democracy could be the key to stabilizing American democracy and encouraging losing candidates to peacefully leave office.

Why have the right-wing justices taken up such a laughable endeavor, embarrassing, really, if you consider how smart and well-educated they all are? 

How could a conservative majority, nominally dedicated to the rule of law, engage in such illogical contortions to evade the simple reality that Donald Trump is entitled to his day in court like everyone else, but is not entitled to special protection from the law?

The answer has nothing to do with constitutional law. The pretense was necessary because the Supreme Court’s conservative cabal sees reelecting Trump as critical to their long-term mission, so critical that they are willing to turn the Supreme Court into a judicial version of the National Enquirer, “catching and killing” threats to Donald Trump’s interests regardless of what the Constitution says.

They are determined to do all they can to reelect Trump and save him from being convicted, not because they love him, but because they are determined to preserve their own continuing hegemony at the pinnacle of our legal system.

Conservatives have a solid six to three majority today. But Clarence Thomas is 75 years old and Samuel Alito is 74. Should ill health or death remove them in the next five years, a Democrat in the White House could create a liberal 5-4 majority, ending the conservative reign.

Right-wing justices have intervened before to boost their preferred candidate, with the evident purpose of ensuring a conservative Supreme Court majority for another generation. 

In the year 2000, with control of the White House turning on the cliff-hanger election in Florida, the Supreme Court stepped in and by a 5-4 vote ordered a recount to be halted while Republican George W. Bush was 537 votes ahead, delivering Florida and the presidency to Bush.

Not long after, Bush appointed two right-wing judges to the Supreme Court, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Those two have been crucial to enacting the conservative judicial agenda. 

They were necessary to the 5-4 and 6-3 conservative majorities in Citizens Unitedenshrining the role of money in American politics, District of Columbia v. Heller, which invented a personal right to own guns, Shelby County v. Holder, eviscerating the Voting Rights Act, and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade.

The conservative judges are not through imposing their vision on America. They intend to continue legislating from the bench to constrict women’s rights, protect the prerogatives of the gun lobby, limit voting rights, shield the fossil fuel industry from accountability, and above all guard the wealth and power of corporations and the super-rich.

In order to achieve these goals, they must maintain their right-wing majority for decades to come, even if that means accepting the threat of a fascist presidency under Donald Trump.

They haven’t gotten there yet. Democracy can prevail in the coming election, and Trump may yet face jury verdicts on the full range of crimes with which he has been charged. But in their nonsensical efforts to help Trump escape judgment, the corrupt rightists of our Supreme Court have confirmed the need to end their suzerainty.

MITCHELL ZIMMERMAN  is an attorney, longtime social activist, and author of the anti-racism thriller "Mississippi Reckoning" (2019).

His columns have appeared often in Progressive Charlestown.

What they're saying about my novel Mississippi Reckoning:
Los Angeles Review of Books“Gripping and harrowing ... punches the reader in the guts.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “Powerful.” Kirkus: “Riveting.” BookTrib: “A plotline rich with unexpected twists.” Pulitzer Prize winning historian Eric Foner: “Rooted in history. Freedom Rider Diane Nash: “Enthralling.” Fed. Judge Thelton Henderson: “A heart-pounding, soul-wrenching narrative.”

Here's the Progressive Charlestown review:

Read an excerpt at: