Happy Super Bowl, as we’ll get back in a couple of hours to the reality of an election year. The editorial board of the NY Times weighs in on the side of swift justice.
The quickest and easiest path is for the court to do nothing. When Mr. Trump appeals, as expected, six or more justices can vote to deny certiorari, which means they refuse to take the case and they let the circuit court’s ruling stand as the final word.
Still, it will not be surprising if the justices decide to take up Mr. Trump’s immunity appeal anyway. However obvious the result may be, the case involves a central issue of American government — namely, the scope of presidential power and authority. In such cases, the Supreme Court often wants to have the definitive and final word.
If the justices choose to go that route, they should do everything possible to limit further delays of the trial. They can expedite the briefing and oral arguments and then issue a quick, clear ruling. This is within the justices’ abilities, particularly when a presidential election is on the line. The court showed as much by deciding President Richard Nixon’s White House tapes case in a matter of weeks, and Bush v. Gore in a single day.
Second, the justices should lift the stay on the district court, which would allow Judge Chutkan to move forward with pretrial preparations like resolving motions and selecting a jury. This would not indicate any bias against Mr. Trump; it would simply uphold the basic principles of justice and fairness. That’s why the Supreme Court has held that, as a rule, trials should proceed without unnecessary delay. That is in the interests of everyone involved in a criminal trial, and it is unquestionably the case here, with only nine months until Election Day and a vital question about one of the candidates left unresolved.
After decades of avoiding accountability for his actions in business and in politics, Mr. Trump may have gotten the impression that he is immune to the consequences most other Americans would face. But legal immunity in a criminal case is different, and the justices should make that crystal clear.
Mr. Trump deserves his day in court. As the circuit court noted, he is a private citizen now and is entitled to “all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant.” What he is not entitled to do is to play frivolous games in the hopes of preventing justice from taking its course.
Garland and his deputies have also reinvigorated federal law enforcement in areas Republican administrations often downplay: fighting to preserve abortion access in the wake of the Dobbs Supreme Court decision, aggressively investigating claims of civil rights violations by police, and filing a flurry of often successful cases opposing mergers and alleged monopolistic practices.
But it has been his handling of the overtly political cases that has prompted Democratic agitation. And chief among those decisions now is his selection of Hur, a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney, to oversee the classified documents case.
“I had refused to criticize him but appointing Hur, who is obviously a Republican tool and who issued what I think is an irresponsible report which violates DOJ standards, was a mistake,” said Robert Shrum, a longtime consultant in the Democratic Party. “I think Garland will be criticized by historians. We’ve had some terrific attorneys general and some not so good attorneys general. And I think he’s going to rank in the not so good.”
Biden, for his part, has kept his frustrations with Garland private, even after publicly admonishing Hur in a press conference on Thursday for saying he couldn’t remember the year his son Beau died. On Friday, the White House distributed a list of quotes critical of Hur that did not mention Garland. Senate Democrats, questioned about Garland on Friday, declined to weigh in on his tenure.