web analytics

SCOTUS Delivers Four New Cases – No Hints on Trump Immunity

Thursday's rulings were divergent, giving no indication of how justices will rule on Donald Trump's case.

The Supreme Court took a small bite out of its case backlog on Thursday, June 20, with four new rulings. None of the cases decided were Donald Trump’s immunity bid or any other considered one of the term’s blockbusters. What was decided was a jumble with some atypical dance partners, and not much to predict how the justices will likely handle the most prominent cases yet to come.

Diaz: Smuggling Without a Clue

Delilah Guadalupe Diaz was on trial for smuggling, but she claimed not to know there were drugs in the vehicle she was driving. Federal prosecutors did not have evidence that Ms. Diaz intended to be a drug mule. Instead, they elicited testimony from a Homeland Security Agent that drug-trafficking organizations do not send quantities of drugs with unknowing transporters. In Diaz v. United States, the Court’s majority delivered a defeat for the rights of criminal defendants, holding that “Expert testimony that ‘most people’ in a group have a particular mental state is not an opinion about ‘the defendant’ and is admissible at trial.” It was a 6-3 decision, but not along familiar lines.

Lately, 6-3 decisions mean conservative vs the liberal bloc. Not here. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the Court’s majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Jackson. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a dissent, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. An interesting outcome was that Justice Jackson – President Biden’s sole appointment to the Court, a former public defender, and a black woman selected because of those attributes – decided a case with a robust pro-prosecutor outlook. Meanwhile, President Trump’s first nominee, Antonin Scalia’s replacement, writes passionately in favor of the criminal defendant:

“Prosecutors can now put an expert on the stand – someone who apparently has the convenient ability to read minds – and let him hold forth on what ‘most’ people like the defendant think when they commit a legally proscribed act. Then, the government need do no more than urge the jury to find that the defendant is like ‘most’ people and convict.”

Moore: More Income Taxes, With or Without Actual Income

Switching up the dance partners, Justice Gorsuch joined Clarence Thomas’ dissent in another case, Moore v. U.S. These two justices stood alone against the rest; Justice Kavanaugh wrote the majority opinion for the Court. Charles and Kathleen Moore invested in an Indian company (KisanKraft), and as Liberty Nation News reported, “[t]he Moore’s never sold their stake in the company nor received any dividend income or other shareholder disbursements. Nevertheless, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made them liable for paying taxes on KisanKraft’s earnings back to 2006.” Justice Thomas admonished the majority:

“The majority’s analysis begins with a list of nonexistent taxes that the Court does not today bless, including a wealth tax. And, it concludes by offering a narrow interpretation of its own holding, hinting at limiting doctrines, prejudging future taxes, cataloguing the Government’s concessions, and reserving other questions ‘for another day.’ Sensing that upholding the MRT [Mandatory Repatriation Tax] cedes additional ground to Congress, the majority arms itself with dicta to tell Congress’ no’ in the future. But, if the Court is not willing to uphold limitations on the taxing power in expensive cases, cheap dicta will make no difference.”

Criminal Justice Cases Abound – But Nothing on Trump

One case, Gonzalez v. Trevino, was decided on a per curiam basis on Thursday, which is functionally identical to a unanimous opinion. In the fourth case, Chiaverini v. City of Napoleon, Justice Kagan wrote for the Court, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Sotomayor, Kavanaugh, Barrett, and Jackson. Thomas dissented, joined by Alito, and Justice Gorsuch dissented separately. Both concerned criminal justice matters.

Those groupings don’t indicate a trend we might use for short-term predictions on the remainders. From an individual liberty perspective, it was a sad day at the Court, especially considering Justice Jackson’s vote in Diaz. Donald Trump, on the other hand, won by not hearing a bad result in his case. As long as that continues, he is winning the calendar. The Court is expected to announce new opinions today, Friday, June 21.

Read More From Scott D. Cosenza, Esq.

Latest Posts

Dark Days for America – The World Reacts

In the hours following the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump at a rally in Butler,...

BREAKING: Trump Shot in the Ear at Rally

Former President Donald Trump was shot in the ear during his rally in Butler, PA. Three shots rang out, catching...

Corporate America’s Favorite President

Make the rich pay their fair share - it's a common rallying cry among progressives, and the current...

China Armed and on NATO’s Doorstep

It was just a matter of time before China threatened NATO. Having Indo-Pacific partner nations Australia, Japan,...