Election 2024: Guilty

About twelve years ago, I was anxiously awaiting the SCOTUS decision in the first major case about the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, NFIB v. Sebelius. Too anxiously, to be honest. My anxiety about it was such that, when the appointed hour came, I decided I didn’t want to be in a position to hear the news immediately and thereby find out whether I’d wasted much of the previous two years of my life (working on ACA implementation issues for health insurers). I was visiting my parents at their cottage, with no television, and I decided to leave my cellphone in the cottage and go for a boat ride in the middle of the river. And then I came in from the boat to discover that Roberts had sided with the liberals to save the ACA, and I was emotional for a few moments, and then life went on.

Yesterday afternoon was much the same for me. I was waiting for my daughter’s school bus to arrive when the news came in that the jury in New York v. Trump, after about 9 hours of deliberation, had announced that they had reached a verdict and it would be announced in about half an hour. After fetching my daughter and coming home and turning on the TV, I then decided… to take a shower (having mown the lawn earlier).

And so it was that I was in the shower yesterday when my daughter entered the bathroom, at her mother’s prodding, to share the news: “All 34 counts: guilty.” I was emotional for a few moments, and then life went on.

Sentencing has been set for July 11th, which is mere days before the Republican National Convention. By all appearances, neither this conviction nor the upcoming sentencing will have any impact whatsoever on the outcome of the RNC; one of our two major parties is going to nominate a recently convicted felon for the Presidency. That remains the reality of the politics of 2024, such is Trump’s grip on the GOP.

There appears to be a diversity of views on what the sentencing outcome will be. On the one hand, Trump has no criminal record and these are Class E felonies, facts which would argue in favor of probation rather than jail time. There is also the optical difficulty of jailing someone who is about to be nominated by a major party for president. On the other hand, there are many extenuating circumstances here unrelated to the upcoming election, including not only the defendant’s utter lack of responsibility for his actions (as he continues to exclaim that he is “completely innocent”) and expressions of contempt towards the justice system, but also the seriousness of the uncharged electoral crimes that the jury found merited the elevation of these business record falsification crimes from misdemeanors to felonies. It is also unclear whether any prison sentence would be stayed pending appeal.

In other electoral news, it was recently announced that the UK will have a general election on July 4th. I do admire their electoral efficiency. Meanwhile back in the US, the governor of Ohio called a special legislative session in an attempt to resolve the impasse that might have left Biden off the ballot this fall in the state, due to the fact that the DNC is scheduled to occur less than 90 days before the election. However with legislative solutions remaining stalled, it sounds like the Democratic Party will conduct a virtual nomination of Biden in advance of the DNC itself, in order to qualify him for the Ohio ballot.

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