Cold, Calculated, Cunning, and Cowardly

That’s my summary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision dealing with Donald Trump’s assertion that the President is immune from all criminal charges by virtue of his position.

Superficially, but only superficially, the decision makes sense. From the way I read it, as do virtually all legalists commenting thus far, the Court declares that the President is immune to criminal charges for actions related to his official duties, but is not immune for acts unrelated to his duties.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s guidelines for what constitutes an official act are so broad that, effectively, almost all conversations and acts with other federal officials could be considered as part of his official duties, even deeds as clearly criminal as tasking special ops to remove a political opponent.

Yet, at the same time, the Supreme Court did not really define what duties were official and what were not and returned the case to the federal district court. This took months to determine?

But the delay and the guidelines effectively foreclosed Trump coming to trial before the election, both actions reflecting political calculations to benefit Trump, and cowardice in keeping the lower courts from making a decision before the election.

In real terms, the Court has overturned the long-standing precedent that no one, even the President, is above the law.

More important than that, however, the Supreme Court’s decision is another step toward establishing in law what amounts to an Imperial Presidency in which the President is answerable to no one – and that is truly frightening, since 150 years of futile attempts to convict an impeached President have proven that Congress is incapable of reining in the President.

13 thoughts on “Cold, Calculated, Cunning, and Cowardly”

  1. Tim says:

    In the 1640s, here in England we had a similar problem with Charles I.

    1. Tom says:

      He certainly did not bar any actions.

      Perhaps it is not too late for Sunak to ask Charles III to do likewise for King and Country?

  2. Chris says:

    The ruling seems like a green light for Biden to order the Seals to assassinate Trump because Trump is a clear and present danger to the continuation of the United States for the following reasons:
    * Admitting he will act as a dictator (but only on Day 1!)
    * Previously egging on an insurrection
    * Compromising national security by opening discussing classified information in front of people without a security clearance at Mar-a-Lago
    * Illegally keeping classified documents after his presidency and trying to conceal his activities from authorities

    I don’t believe Biden would do such a thing, but it definitely seems like he would be protected legally.

    1. Bill says:

      It seems that Joe could just do what Trump tried on the 6th and have Biden declared president. Boy Orange and his people have ruined the democracy since Joe may be at a position of either breaking the back of democracy by doing something immoral to prevent another Trump presidency or allow a Trump dictatorship.
      We are suffering from the old Chinese curse may you live in interesting times.

    2. KTL says:


      I often wish that Biden would fight as much as the Republicans with both his rhetoric and targets of such. He could run the rest of his campaign against the Supreme Court and might even win more votes that way…..but, he won’t. I listened to his interview with Howard Stern. He’s just not got an angry or revengeful bone in his body. That’s not what Trump or the Republicans portray, but that’s the way I hear it and see it.

      So, Biden is fighting an asymmetric battle with a coalition in his camp. That doesn’t bode well for a strong outcome. I concur with the dissenting opinion in this immunity cae – I fear for our democracy.

      This SCOTUS has issued many rulings in the last 2-3 years that shows they intend to both control the courts and the legislative process. It is a full on soft coup.

  3. KevinJ says:

    You know, the Taney court was decent until in one decision becoming the opposite (see: Dred Scott). And the late 1800s courts tended to suck because 1) they allowed corporations to start getting away with all the crap they’ve been getting away with since, and 2) they dumped all over civil rights, too.

    But I’m not sure we’ve ever seen the Court take such sustained action to 1) limit the people’s freedoms, and 2) decide cases in ways opposed by the majority of the population, in this allegedly democratic country.

    I’m less and less optimistic that this country will survive in any recognizable form.

    1. Shannon says:

      Quit blaming SCOTUS. Congress makes the laws. Courts merely interpret law. I dislike the outcomes of many recent decisions but the reasoning in the opinions isn’t outrageous.
      Some of the justices are objectionable but most of them aren’t bad their approaches just vary.

      1. KTL says:

        In a number of cases SCOTUSD has reached out and reinterpreted the law and determined it is unconstitutional or should be interpreted completely differently to what the statutes clearly say. One of the most recent ones if the bump stock bans which turn a single shot rifle into a ‘machine gun’. Updates to the bans on machine guns clearly anticipated the evolution of mechanical advantages to manual shooting of one-shot-at-a-time, and wrote laws that overcome this limitation. And yet, the SCOTUS determined that a bump stock did no such thing. Common sense must take a back seat to the wisdom of the Oracle in Washington, DC

        1. Martin Sinclair says:

          If SCOTUS ( and the NRA ) had the courage of their “convictions”, the question about bump stocks would be moot because there’d be no restrictions on any form of firearm/ownership ( including those with felony convictions ). There’s some interesting parsing of meaning going on

      2. KevinJ says:

        *How* SCOTUS interprets the law is what draws the court praise or blame. And the court does indeed merit blame sometimes. I mentioned Dred Scott. Here’s the worst excerpt from that decision, one that has heaped blame on then-Chief Justice Taney, then and since:

        “The question before us is, whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate [60 U.S. 393, 405] and inferior class of beings…”

        Then-Chief Justice Taney received a torrent of blame then and since. Deservedly.

      3. Wine Guy says:

        @Shannon – if you don’t think the reasoning is outrageous, what would it take to impress you? None of them are actually dumb enough to outright say “I’m rigging the social constructs underpinning the last 80 years of US life so we can return to the 1940s.” In this case, actions literally speak louder than words.

      4. Wren Jackson says:

        Dictating Political Appointed officials beholden to a specific party are more experts in a field than people who are actually… (checks notes)… Experts in their field.

        Dictating the President is above the Law so long as they are acting “officially” or if unofficial if a Judge interprets that unofficially to be truly unofficial.

        Dictating that individual states have the right to force bodily autonomy based on their morals vs the rights and needs of the individual.

        Do I need to keep going? Yes, Congress could also have fixed these issues too. Shockingly enough one group doing something wrong doesn’t validate another group’s poor actions.

        Personally, I blame the existance of the Electoral College which skews votes away from representing the actual country and makes your vote worth less if you live in a large population center. If not for them, Trump would never have been in office and neither would W2.

        Or, how about we blame Texas, after all, if their voter base would actually turn out in force, Texas would have been Purple or Blue, and again, No Trump.

        Or, I can be realistic and condemn people for amoral actions regardless of if someone else could have also done better.

  4. Martin Sinclair says:

    I think “cowardly” hits the nail on the head. The common characteristic of all SCOTUS’s decisions has been an attempt to use Jesuit-level hairsplitting to provide a figleaf of justification for their decisions. There is no attempt to say “what were the legislatures trying to do here and how does that align with this case ?”. Instead, we have a succession of superficially-reasonable decisions that actively reduce trust in the justice system and further erode people’s confidence in the ability of government to act for them

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