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Dignifying arguments by responding to them


I want to re-emphasize what a complete disaster this is:

The ostensible reason for the Court’s order putting the trial on ice is that the Court needs that time to consider a weak appeal challenging a ruling by Judge Tanya Chutkan, the judge presiding over his DC criminal trial.

According to Trump, the Constitution forbids any prosecution of a former president for any “official acts” he engaged in while in office. The implications of this argument are astounding, and Trump’s lawyers haven’t exactly tried to hide them. During one court hearing, the former president’s lawyer told a judge that Trump could not be prosecuted even if he had ordered “SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival,” unless Trump were also impeached and convicted by the Senate.

It’s hard to imagine the Supreme Court signing onto this argument, which has already been rejected by two other courts.

Yet Trump has now, with Wednesday’s ruling, leveraged this ridiculous legal argument to delay his DC trial for at least four and a half months, and the delay will likely extend much longer because the Court will need time to produce an opinion. The Court will hear oral arguments in late April.

Simply put, Wednesday’s order is a disaster for anyone hoping that Trump may face trial before the November election. And, because the nominal reason for this order is to give the justices more time to decide if the president is completely above the law, this decision raises serious doubts about whether this Court can be trusted to oversee Trump-related cases in a nonpartisan manner.

The argument Trump’s lawyers are putting forward is frivolous in the precise legal meaning of that term, meaning it’s the kind of thing that would get the lawyers making it sanctioned under ordinary circumstances. But of course none of the ordinary rules apply to Trump, which happens to be, stripped of the legal verbiage, Trump’s argument in this case.

The claim that the SCOTUS needs to “resolve” the question of whether seditionist presidents can be prosecuted for attempting autogolpes while still in office is also frivolous, in the ordinary lay sense of “a really stupid [word the New York Times won’t print] argument.” Dignifying Trump’s pseudo-legal claims with a response gives those claims a kind of potential legitimacy — “serious ™ scholars of the Constitution disagree” blah blah blah — that they no more deserve than Donald Trump deserves to be president again.

The whole spectacle is completely disgusting.

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