- Both of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court appointees ruled against the president in Thursday’s decision on whether the president could defy a subpoena making him turn over his tax returns.
- Nominating Gorsuch and Kavanaugh has been considered by conservatives as perhaps Trump’s most significant achievement, with the pair shifting the balance of the court in favor of conservative-leaning justices.
- Trump described the decision backed by both of his Supreme Court appointees as part of “a political prosecution,” comparing it to the “Mueller Witch Hunt.”
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In a major blow to President Trump, both of his Supreme Court appointees voted with the majority in a Thursday decision ruling that the president is not immune from a subpoena demanding he reveal his tax returns.
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh came to the court as conservative judges in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
The appointment of the duo has long been heralded by conservatives as perhaps Trump’s most significant accomplishment, ostensibly changing the court for decades to come by tilting it to a 5-4 conservative majority.
However, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch were part of the 7-2 majority in Thursday’s Trump v. Vance ruling, denying the president legal protections from the Manhattan District Court’s subpoena over his long hidden tax returns.
The pair also joined the majority in another 7-2 decision against Trump released on Thursday in Trump v. Mazars.
In that case, the president was trying to prevent the House Oversight Committee from accessing financial records from his accounting firm via a subpoena.
Trump has revealed less of his financial records than any modern president, and the court cited examples of former presidents including Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and even Thomas Jefferson as precedent for commanders in chief having to comply with subpoenas.
Adding insult to injury, Kavanaugh wrote a concurring opinion with the majority featuring Gorsuch as a signatory.
“The Court today unanimously concludes that a President does not possess absolute immunity from a state criminal subpoena, but also unanimously agrees that this case should be remanded to the District Court, where the President may raise constitutional and legal objections to the subpoena as appropriate,” Kavanaugh wrote.
“In our system of government, as this Court has often stated, no one is above the law,” he continued. “That principle applies, of course, to a President.”
—Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) July 9, 2020
Taking to Twitter shortly after the decision was announced, Trump was not pleased.
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2020
Trump called the ruling part of “a political prosecution,” and although he did not mention Gorsuch or Kavanaugh by name, he compared it to “the Mueller Witch Hunt,” referring to the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The case will go back down to district court, where the meat and potatoes of the subpoena battle will be hashed out. If that decision also goes against Trump, the public could finally see his tax returns.
Even though the president gets to fight another day, the decision backed by his appointees left him crying foul.
“Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!” Trump tweeted.