Election 2024: Two Fronts

Tomorrow should be an interesting day for Trump, on two fronts.

In New York, it will be the third day of testimony in New York v. Trump; the trial will in general be running only four days a week with no activity on Wednesdays, so nothing happened today. The day will start with David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer, still on the stand. His testimony on Tuesday was delayed by a hearing regarding whether Trump has violated Judge Merchan’s gag order relating to the trial; no ruling has been issued yet.

In D.C., it will be oral arguments at SCOTUS in Trump v. U.S., regarding presidential immunity. Today would ordinarily have been the final day of oral arguments in this SCOTUS term, and today’s case was a blockbuster involving the conflict between the federal EMTALA statute and a recent Idaho law restricting abortions except when the life of the mother is at risk. However, after the D.C. Circuit’s per curiam decision on the presidential immunity issue, SCOTUS scheduled one additional day of oral argument for this term rather than delay oral argument until the Court returns in October.

I never did get around to writing a blog post summarizing the arguments made in the parties’ briefs. However, as is typically true of SCOTUS cases, my expectation is that much of the discussion tomorrow will be focused on broader issues about the concept of presidential immunity that go beyond what would be needed to decide the more limited issue of whether Judge Chutkan’s trial may resume. Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith summed things up this week in an article for Lawfare:

“The Trump indictment alleges grotesque abuses of presidential power. But the Court cannot say “Yeah, that’s really bad, no immunity” and let the case go forward on that simple basis. It has to consider how allowing a former president to be prosecuted and possibly convicted for Trump’s bad acts might impact a whole range of less bad acts by the current and future presidents. Figuring out that impact, and how to craft the opinion so as not to unduly hamstring other presidents, is one of the Court’s central tasks in Trump v. United States.”

In other news, there were two interesting developments in Arizona today. First, the Arizona House finally voted 32-28 to repeal the 1864 abortion ban that was recently reinstated by SCOAZ, after having failed to do on multiple occasions over the past two weeks; it is expected the Arizona Senate will follow suit next week, and the Governor will sign the repeal. Second, Arizona A.G. Mayes announced that 18 Republicans had been indicted in a new case involving efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, including Mark Meadows and Rudy Guliani; Trump is “unindicted co-conspirator #1”.

Finally, yesterday was the primary election in Pennsylvania. In a closed Republican primary, six weeks after Nikki Haley dropped out, Trump only managed to beat Haley 83-17. Haley got 25% of the vote in two key suburban Philadelphia counties: Chester, which went 58-41 for Biden in 2020; and Montgomery, which Biden won 62-36. On the Democratic side Biden got 88% of the vote, versus 6% for the only other candidate on the ballot (Representative Phillips) and 6% for write-ins.