[OPINION] Supreme Court ruling schools Trump: No president is above the law

Carlos Barria / Reuters and U.S. Supreme Court

DONALD TRUMP might have been “acquitted” by his power-hungry Republican minions in Congress twice after being impeached by the House of Representatives twice despite his abuse of power and obstruction of justice in 2020 and for inciting January 6 insurrection in the nation’s Capitol.

But the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that reminded Donald Trump that no one, not even the president of the United States, is above the law.

As the New York Times broke the news on Monday, February 22:

“The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a last-ditch attempt by former President Donald J. Trump to shield his financial records, issuing a brief, unsigned order that ended Mr. Trump’s bitter 18-month battle to stop prosecutors in Manhattan from poring over his tax returns as they investigate possible financial crimes.

The court’s order was a decisive defeat for Mr. Trump, who had gone to extraordinary lengths to keep his tax returns and related documents secret, taking his case to the Supreme Court twice. There were no dissents noted.”

Yes, NO DISSENT. Not even from the justices he appointed to the highest court. These honorable justices did not betray their oath just to please Trump, who has demonstrated consistently his “quid pro quo” style of leadership.

The Washington Post reported that the Supreme Court also “turned away Republican challenges to the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, refusing to take up a months-long dispute over extending the deadline in that state for receiving mail-in ballots.”

The Post further reported:

“It was part of a purge of sorts. The high court formally dismissed a range of suits filed by Donald Trump and his allies in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona — all states won by Democrat Joe Biden. The court’s intent in most of those had been signaled when it refused to expedite consideration of them before Biden was inaugurated as president.

The case about deadlines for receiving mail-in ballots was different, though. Three justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — said it deserved the court’s attention, even though the number of votes at issue would not call into question Biden’s victory.”

These are great signs that justice is still alive in the United States, and that more democratic institutions are doing their role of checks and balances and demanding accountability from former President Donald Trump, after his efforts to trample on our democracy to feed his insatiable greed for power, money and ego.

Now that Trump is no longer in power, he has lost the shield he had been desperately trying to hold onto in order to protect himself from all the legal battles that await him, on both personal and political fronts.

Congress has also started hearings to investigate deeper into what led to the January 6 insurrection, make people accountable, and write legislation to prevent this tragedy from happening again.

Another reason to be optimistic that the rule of law will be upheld again pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution is President Joe Biden’s nomination of Merrick Garland to be the United States’ attorney general.

In his Senate confirmation hearing on Monday, February 22, Garland vowed “to keep politics out of the Justice Department and to fully prosecute the “heinous” crimes committed in the attack on the U.S. Capitol in the deadly riot on January 6,” CNN reported
Garland was former President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court in 2016, but the Republican-led Senate never even got to have confirmation hearings for his nomination.

As the National Public Radio (NPR) chronicled:

“Widely regarded as a moderate, Garland had been praised in the past by many Republicans, including influential senators such as Orrin Hatch of Utah.

But even before Obama had named Garland, and in fact only hours after Scalia’s death was announced, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared any appointment by the sitting president to be null and void. He said the next Supreme Court justice should be chosen by the next president — to be elected later that year.”

Lo and behold! We knew what happened: The Senate Republicans went against their rationale that denied Garland any confirmation hearing. Instead, on September 25, 2020 — an election year — Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. The Republicans in Congress rushed the confirmation hearings despite the urgency of COVID-19 issues and on October 26, 2020, Barrett was confirmed.

The confirmation of Garland as attorney general means finally, after four years of having AGs whom Trump used as his own lawyer, we will have in Garland someone who will represent us, the American people.

“If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6 — a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government,” Garland says in his opening statement.

Garland “plans to stress that the role is meant to “serve the Rule of Law and to ensure equal justice under the law,” noting that July 2020 marked the 150th anniversary of the Justice Department’s founding in the aftermath of the Civil War and that its core mission was to secure the civil rights promised by the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. “The mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice,” CNN quoted Garland in a report. “Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system.”

In his confirmation hearing, Merrick Garland assured Congress that he would remain independent of partisan influences if he is confirmed to the post.

“I do not regard myself as anything other than the lawyer for the people of the United States. I am not the President’s lawyer. I am the United States’ lawyer,” Garland said.

This is consistent with what Biden said he told Garland when announcing Garland’s nomination. “You won’t work for me. You are not the president’s or the vice president’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution.”

As TIME reported, “Garland would oversee a wide-reaching department that has a hand in everything from the prosecution of rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 to the nation’s broken immigration system. He’s set to take over the Department at a particularly fraught moment, with a crisis in confidence about the DOJ’s impartiality spurred by Donald Trump’s presidency and numerous hot-button political investigations underway, including one into the financial dealings of Biden’s son Hunter and another into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. How Garland navigates the tricky partisan environment could have huge consequences for public faith in the Department.”
We have seen how Trump’s AGs politicized and weaponized the position to serve him, in betrayal of the law and of the public trust accorded to him.

“I would like for the time that I’m in the Justice Department to turn down the volume on the way in which people view the department. That the Justice Department not be the center of partisan disagreement. That we return to the days when the department does its law enforcement and criminal justice policy, and that this is viewed in a bipartisan way,” Garland said in his closing remarks on Monday as reported by TIME. “I know these are divisive times. I’m not naive. But I would like to do everything I can to have people believe that that’s what we’re doing.”

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at gelrelos@icloud.com, or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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