Trump Demands SCOTUS Overturn His New York State-Based Conviction

ON HIS FLEDGLING TRUTH SOCIAL WEBSITE, former President Donald Trump demanded that the United States Supreme Court intervene to overturn his recent conviction in New York state, alleging various conspiracy theories and questioning the impartiality of Judge Juan Merchan, who is set to determine his sentencing on July 11. 

Last week, Trump was found guilty by a jury of his peers of 34 counts relating to his making hush-money payments to women he had affairs with, then using his personal business to hide the payments, concealing them from American voters in the run-up to the 2016 election. 

Trump made several false assertions, including calling Merchan "HIGHLY CONFLICTED" (the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics had determined Merchan was not). Such notions are part of a broader (and obvious) plot by him to undermine the judicial process and to escape being held to any accountability.

Trump's plea to the Supreme Court is not only highly unusual but also legally tenuous. The Supreme Court typically refrains from intervening in state judiciary matters unless there is a clear federal question regarding a violation of constitutional rights. 

Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal emphasized this point while speaking on MSNBC recently, suggesting that while there might be an attempt to frame a federal issue, the likelihood of success is slim.

"Maybe they’ll find some federal issue here and maybe there will be an appeal that will get there. But I think it’s tough," Katyal said.

Notably, the Supreme Court has involved itself in Trump's other election interference case, which is a federal matter. Legal experts have questioned why the Court would entertain Trump's claims of "presidential immunity," but at least in that situation, they have a relevant (and federal) question to answer. 

The situation in Trump's New York case diverges significantly from that, as it revolves around state-level judicial processes. The Supreme Court's intervention here would set a problematic precedent, potentially undermining the principle that former presidents, like all citizens, should be held accountable under state laws.

While Trump's strategy will undoubtedly appeal to his supporters, it poses a severe threat to the integrity of the American legal system. If the Supreme Court were to acquiesce to his demands and intervene in the New York case, it would further erode public confidence in the judiciary's impartiality. 

So while it is not impossible for the Supreme Court to intervene, doing so would be a profound misstep, to put it lightly. The Supreme Court — particularly its far-right members of the bench — must resist the temptation to heed Trump's call. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be surprised if they took the alternative, Trumpian view instead, further demonstrating why the Court itself is in dire need of reforms.

Featured image credits: Image of Trump via Gage Skidmore/Flickr; image of Supreme Court via Marielam1/Wikimedia