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Trump Should Try to Be Thankful for Chief Justice Roberts This Year


It seems like only yesterday when last we were brining our turkeys while watching our president Tweet about our chief justice like a middle-schooler who’d been excluded from a sleepover. [Recap: The Ninth Circuit ruled against President Donald Trump’s migrant asylum policy and Trump whine-Tweeted about the court being biased against him; Chief Justice John Roberts made a public statement correcting Trump and reminding everyone that judges are impartial and apolitical.] Last year, Trump sent a series of rage-Tweets out on Thanksgiving morning which called out Roberts for his lack of understanding and demanding that the judiciary side with him.At the time, I wrote that Trump’s public attacks on the judiciary might, on their own, bring us a step closer to impeachment; attempts to politicize the bench are inherently improper and go to the heart of presidential malfeasance. We’re way beyond that now.

As families use the words “Zelenksy,” “Yovanovitch,” “Sondland,” and “Hill” during their holiday merrymaking, impeachment is underway – and for much more specified presidential wrongdoing. Now’d be a good time for Trump to remind us that what he’s really thankful for is a conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

2019 may be winding down, but court is still in session for Donald Trump. SCOTUS is slated to make some decisions on Trump and his tax returns. Two cases are pending upon which the high court may rule any day.  At the heart of the issues is the role of the executive branch and the extent to which a sitting president may keep his personal finances secret.

When the president starts pardoning turkeys and such this year, it couldn’t hurt for him to give a shout-out of gratitude in the size and shape of Chief Justice Roberts. Roberts will be the one to preside over Trump’s imminent impeachment trial before the Senate. While the presiding judge certainly does not independently dictate the outcome of any trial, neither is the judge irrelevant. If Republicans have been unhappy with Adam Schiff’s smiling gavel-smacks and refusals to recognize various gentlemen, they’re going to be in for a rude awakening when Mr. Chief Justice ascends to his bench. I’m not guessing Roberts will have much patience for partisan refusals to adhere to agreed-upon procedural rules.

All looming consequences considered, Trump would do well to depart from last year’s tactic and offer Roberts a cup of online cheer this Thanksgiving. The president, however, isn’t getting things off to a very bright start. Whatever the strength of the impeachment allegations, referring to the Constitutionally-authorized process as “the phony Impeachment Scam” isn’t likely to sit well with the man who will preside.

[Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo – Pool/Getty Images.]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos