Brent Budowsky: SCOTUS will affirm US v. Nixon

Brent Budowsky: SCOTUS will affirm US v. Nixon
© Greg Nash

While it is usually unwise to predict a decision of the United States Supreme Court, here is a dramatic prediction about the great impeachment debate that grips the nation today.

In the coming months, probably sooner than analysts expect, the Supreme Court will uphold and affirm the unanimously decided case of U.S. v. Nixon and apply its guiding principle to critical pending legal cases and impeachment proceedings advancing in Congress.

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At this defining moment, President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE will then be required to release critical evidence now being withheld and allow testimony from administration officials compelled by conscience, patriotism and respect for law to testify before Congress and courts.

Historic cases are moving at an expedited pace to the Court of Appeals level. The time is rapidly approaching for another definitive Supreme Court ruling on the great constitutional question of whether a president can aggressively and comprehensively claim privileges to systematically prevent critical witnesses and evidence of potential crimes and impeachable offenses from being presented to Congress and courts — which would effectively place President Trump above the law.

The coming Supreme Court decision will have such a momentous constitutional and practical influence that it will forever define the historic legacy and reputation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGOP senator compares impeachment inquiry to Kavanaugh confirmation Christine Blasey Ford receives ACLU courage award Election 2020: Why I'm watching Amy and Andy MORE, Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchProtesters roll out a screen playing Blasey Ford's testimony ahead of Federalist Society dinner Kavanaugh to deliver major speech to conservative Federalist Society McConnell protege emerges as Kentucky's next rising star MORE, Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoKavanaugh to deliver major speech to conservative Federalist Society Supreme court has thrown a wrench into the machinery of free speech Divided Supreme Court leans toward allowing Trump to end DACA MORE, Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasKavanaugh to deliver major speech to conservative Federalist Society Five landmark moments of testimony to Congress Katie Hill calls out a 'double standard' in final floor speech MORE, Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgGinsburg returns to Supreme Court after stomach bug Ginsburg misses Supreme Court arguments due to illness Justices appear divided over expanding police officers' traffic stop power MORE, Elena KaganElena KaganOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act Justices appear divided over expanding police officers' traffic stop power MORE, Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorDivided Supreme Court leans toward allowing Trump to end DACA Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act Justices appear divided over expanding police officers' traffic stop power MORE and Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerDivided Supreme Court leans toward allowing Trump to end DACA Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act Justices appear divided over expanding police officers' traffic stop power MORE.

The Supreme Court will either decide, as the justices unanimously decided in U.S. v. Nixon, that the president must allow relevant evidence and witnesses to be presented, or that U.S. v. Nixon was wrongly decided, and the president possesses unchallengeable unitary power to prevent critical evidence of potential crimes and impeachable offenses from being considered by Congress and courts.

The aggressive, sweeping and systematic efforts of the Trump administration to ignore subpoenas and prevent testimony of witnesses and production of evidence means the Supreme Court is being asked to effectively legalize obstruction of justice, abuse of power and destruction of evidence.

This aggressive and all-encompassing attempt to sabotage all investigations over many months has had the judicial impact, for which the president bears ALL responsibility, of pushing into election year one of the most profound and consequential constitutional decisions since John Marshall took the oath of office as chief justice.

Against this unprecedented presidential obstruction of evidence and sabotage of investigations, a growing list of widely admired and vastly respected administration insiders, motivated by a deep patriotism and alarmed by dangers to our national security, have been inspired to extraordinary profiles in courage at a critical moment in history by openly defying illegitimate orders to refuse to present evidence and testify before Congress.

When these enormously credible officials present their testimony in public to the country in nationally televised hearings, the effect on public opinion will be powerful and profound. Their credibility, stature, career courage, vast experience and patriotic passion will stand in decisive and dramatic contrast to the banana republic tactics employed by the president and his desperate supporters to slander and demean them by attacking their motives and patriotism.

The coverup is losing. The facts and truth are emerging. The persuasive and decisive evidence is mounting. A large majority of Americans want the investigation to proceed fully and fairly, unimpeded and unobstructed.

In U.S. v. Nixon a unanimous majority, understanding the enormity of the matter, ruled after expedited consideration that the Nixon coverup must end and the evidence must be expeditiously provided.

In my view, the Supreme Court will not, by a 5-4 party-line vote of Republican-appointed justices, find that the unanimous decision of U.S. v Nixon was wrongly decided.

It is far more likely that Chief Justice John Roberts, sitting where Chief Justice John Marshall once sat in the citadel of justice where the Nixon-era court once decided, will steer the court toward a broad historic decision declaring for time immemorial that no American is above the law — including President Trump.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.