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What The Case Looks Like For Trump After SCOTUS Ruling On His Tax Returns

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I want to bring another voice in here. It's Jessica Levinson. She's a law professor at Loyola University, as well as host of the podcast "Passing Judgment." Professor, thanks for coming on.

JESSICA LEVINSON: Thanks so much for having me. What a big morning.

GREENE: Yeah, big morning. So what's your takeaway from these two decisions?

LEVINSON: My takeaway is that if you listen to oral arguments - over the phone, of course, because of historic oral arguments that happened not in person...

GREENE: Remotely, yeah.

LEVINSON: ...This is about where the court looked like it was going. And because if you think about what was going to happen with respect to the New York case, if they had ruled in favor of President Trump, what it means essentially is that every sitting president is absolutely immune, not just from prosecution, not just from indictment but also from any sort of investigation. And this court simply can't do that. They're not just looking at President Trump. They're looking at presidents in the future, and they're saying what about other defendants where the statute of limitations might run? What about evidence that you might lose? And so I think that decision is - you know, it's easy for me to say this morning, but that one was fairly predictable.

The bigger question was going to be what does the court do with respect to these congressional committee subpoenas? And this is just this perfect Goldilocks approach. It allows the court to make a decision to look like it's treading a middle road, but it essentially punts. It means we're not going to get this information before the election. And it's - you know, it's every Supreme Court's favorite way of punting. They say here's the new test. It's four factors. Lower court, you deal with it, and we'll see you in a year or two.

GREENE: Back to you, lower courts. See you later after the election. Could I just ask one specific question? We saw Justices Alito and Thomas dissent in both of these cases, even though they were kind of different rulings. Does that tell us anything?

LEVINSON: It does tell us something. Obviously, we've seen Justices Alito and Thomas dissent pretty recently. We had two 7-2 decisions yesterday, in fact, dealing with the religious rights of employers. And so it tells us that we weren't imagining it, that they truly are the conservative wing of the conservative court. What it also shows us is who was not dissenting. Of course, it was President Trump's two appointees, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. I think that they probably realized they would just look like shills if they had voted the other way. This shows as united as possible of a Supreme Court. Roberts certainly wanted 9-0, but he got 7-2. That's not a bad day with this current court.

GREENE: Jessica Levinson, law professor and also host of the podcast "Passing Judgment," joining us on Skype. Thanks so much.

LEVINSON: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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