Trump Demands That Supreme Court Rescue Him From Conviction

President Trump Attends Swearing-In Of Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Trump watches as one of his trophy justices, Brett Kavanaugh, is sworn in.
Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court is having a bit of a credibility crisis lately, thanks to the partisan antics of certain members of its conservative majority. Most recently, revelations about the insurrectionary flag-flying habits of Justice Samuel Alito’s household have undermined the pious claims of Chief Justice John Roberts and other Supreme Court members about the apolitical nature of these lifetime appointees. The most recent brouhaha deepens the problems associated with ongoing evidence of Justice Clarence Thomas’s deep and lucrative ties to the far right, and compounds the significant loss of public trust the Court’s conservatives sustained after the reversal of Roe v. Wade in 2022.

So it’s not an ideal time for the president who appointed three conservative justices to ask that they and their colleagues rescue him from liability for the crimes of which a New York jury found him guilty last week. But Donald Trump was about as subtle as a jackhammer in demanding an intervention on Truth Social:

The “Sentencing” for not having done anything wrong will be, conveniently for the Fascists, 4 days before the Republican National Convention. A Radical Left Soros backed D.A., who ran on a platform of “I will get Trump,” reporting to an “Acting” Local Judge, appointed by the Democrats, who is HIGHLY CONFLICTED, will make a decision which will determine the future of our Nation? The United States Supreme Court MUST DECIDE!

Even more direct than the ruling monarch of the GOP was its highest-ranking elected official, House Speaker Mike Johnson, who went on Fox News and made things worse by suggesting some personal knowledge of the Court’s inclinations, as the New York Times reported:

“I do believe the Supreme Court should step in,” Mr. Johnson told Fox News during an interview the morning after Mr. Trump became the first former president to be convicted of any crime. “Obviously, this is totally unprecedented” …

Speaking on Fox, Mr. Johnson said he knew some of the justices on the Supreme Court personally and believed that they shared his view that Mr. Trump was a victim of unfair and politically motivated prosecutions. He also suggested that the legal system was biased against Mr. Trump and other conservatives.

“So I think they’ll set this straight,” Mr. Johnson said.

Unlike Trump, who seemed to be expecting a Supreme Court thunderbolt before his July 11 sentencing date, Johnson hinted at some knowledge of how the legal system actually works:

“[I]t’s going to take awhile.”

He added: “This will be overturned, guys, there’s no question about it. It’s just going to take some time to do it.”

It will “take some time to do it,” of course, because Trump’s conviction was in a New York court for the violation of New York laws. Perhaps the man who once said of the U.S. Constitution that “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” isn’t clear on this, but the Supreme Court cannot just do whatever it wants, either. There must be a federal constitutional issue justifying the Court’s intervention, and there are none apparent in his case. Even if there were a hook, federal courts typically demand that petitioners exhaust every state remedy before becoming involved. So that would mean the Supreme Court would stay far away until Trump’s lawyers are finished with New York’s own appeals processes (beginning with the Appellate Division and then proceeding to the Court of Appeals), which could take years. This timetable could help Trump stay out of the hoosegow (in the event that he draws an actual jail sentence from Judge Juan Merchan), but it means he can’t expect a speedy life preserver from the federal judiciary.

I’m guessing some quiet messages will be sent from emissaries of the conservative justices to Mar-a-Lago asking Trump to cool his jets, particularly if there is any prospect that the Supreme Court may be on the brink of siding with Team Trump on actual pending cases. Trump’s claim of immunity for crimes he may have committed as president, and a separate objection to federal prosecutors charging the January 6 insurrectionists (including Trump and his cronies) with obstruction of justice, are issues where the 45th president’s appointees, along with Alito and Thomas, might confirm his very good luck in being able to shape a Court where some one-term presidents (e.g., Jimmy Carter) never get a single nomination. So he should probably not be so freewheeling in ordering the justices around, and tell his friend Mike Johnson to put a lid on it as well.

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