Op-Ed: Justice Thomas’ refusal to recuse himself is thumbing his nose at the law
The Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday was not about the President, but what the Constitution requires.
That makes it no less critical that the justices stand up for the Constitution and the rule of law.
The decision doesn’t turn on the question of whether Trump is a threat to democracy. It turns on the question of whether the President — the Constitution’s chief executive — has the power to shut down the Mueller investigation into alleged Russian collusion and obstruction.
That’s a question that the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, answers yes. The Court has already ruled in dicta, however, that Congress has the power to impeach the president for abuse of power and dereliction of duty.
The case itself is not the issue at hand. It’s really the dissent from the Supreme Court’s newest member, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who wrote the opinion upholding the decision.
This year, his view of the Constitution — and his view of the law — has been a breath of fresh air.
In his ruling, Kavanaugh noted:
It is the duty of the executive to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. Whether President Trump can be said to have done so is a question about the Constitution, not about the President.
This does not mean that President Trump hasn’t broken the law.
As Kavanaugh wrote, “It is undeniable that President Trump has engaged in numerous, and possibly significant, conflicts of interest between his official duties and his private interests.”
As a private citizen, he could use his own tax return to get a tax deferral through, which would be a clear conflict of interest.
As President, he could use his own Department of Justice and FBI to investigate, which would be a clear conflict of interest.
As Supreme Court Justice, Kavanaugh wrote:
The President has often been held to a higher standard because he occupies a unique and important office. But the Constitution does not vest the federal executive branch with und