Based on questions asked by Supreme Court justices at Tuesday’s hearing on requests for President Donald Trump’s tax returns, it seems likely that the high court will split along ideological lines, with Chief Justice John Roberts being the key swing vote who will agree to release some of the president’s tax documents.
NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post all note that Roberts seemed to be searching for a middle ground between the claims of absolute immunity argued by Trump’s attorneys and the established legal standard that no one — not even a sitting president — is above the law. As The Post explained:
“A 9-to-0 ruling did not seem a possibility after Tuesday’s proceedings. But some, led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., seemed to be looking for middle ground that would avoid a deeply split decision in a highly charged political atmosphere.
“In the combined congressional case, for instance, Roberts said Trump’s lawyers recognized Congress has at least some right to issue subpoenas, and lawyers for Congress acknowledged there were limits.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, however, remarked that precedent had already been set by the court in past cases involving presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton:
“The aura of this case is really sauce for the goose that serves the gander as well. So how do you distinguish, say, Whitewater, when President Clinton’s personal records were subpoenaed from his accountant, or even Hillary Clinton’s law firm billing records were subpoenaed?”
But one thing appeared clear, and it doesn’t bode well for Trump: Nearly every justice who asked questions or commented during the oral arguments was unwilling to agree that a president has a blanket immunity that allows him to refuse cooperation with court orders or Congressional requests for information. That may well wind up being how a compromise is reached that would force Trump to turn over his tax returns in one form or another.
Featured Image Via NBC News