The Supreme Court split a decision Thursday on whether President Donald Trump must release his tax returns to those who want to investigate him, but the way in which they did so will effectively prevent him from having to do so before the 2020 election.
In twin 7-2 votes, the court agreed with Trump releasing his returns to a New York grand jury, but dismissed Congressional subpoenas from three Democrat-led House committees to see the records.
Even more importantly, though, the court sent both cases back to the lower courts to be relitigated, which will take many months, if not more than a year.
Even fake news CNN recognized the implications of the decision with the following headline: “The Supreme Court just shut the door on seeing Trump’s taxes before the election.”
Public may see Trump’s taxes–Eventually
After this ruling, it is more likely that the public will eventually see Trump’s taxes, but it’s not going to happen any time soon.
One important takeaway from the ruling is the firm statement by both the majority and dissenting opinions that the president is not above the law. Trump’s lawyers had argued that he had an “absolute immunity” as president, but the justices said absolutely not.
When the cases go back to the lower courts, Trump lawyers will have to come up with a different argument to shield the tax documents, but the decisions give them the opportunity to do so.
Seems to me that prosecutors will have to make a clear case that they are not just on a fishing expedition–we have already had too many of those during Trump’s first term and it just hasn’t been fair on any level.
It wasn’t exactly clear whether Trump realized that he had won at least a temporary victory with the ruling, because he seemed to be upset about it at least initially.
He blasted the court in a tweet, saying, ““These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!”
Maybe he was just rattled by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. hailing the decision as a win. “This is a tremendous victory for our nation’s system of justice and its founding principle that no one — not even a president — is above the law,” Vance said, and vowed to continue with the case.
But Trump has been on both ends of lawsuits enough times now to know that both sides will claim victory as often as they can, and this case certainly gives both sides that opportunity.