“A Ruling for Trump on Eligibility Could Doom His Bid for Immunity”

Adam Liptak for the NYT:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and his colleagues seemed ready on Thursday to start to rebuild the court’s reputation by presenting themselves as unified and apolitical.

He has had a bumpy ride of late, what with the leak of the decision overturning Roe v. Wade, an inconclusive investigation into that breach, a lonely concurrence in the decision itself and ethics scandals followed by a toothless code meant to address them.

All of this has contributed to dips in the Supreme Court’s approval ratings, as large segments of the public have increasingly viewed it as swayed by politics rather than committed to neutral principles and the rule of law.

Judging by the justices’ questions in arguments on Thursday over former President Donald J. Trump’s eligibility to hold office again, they will rule that Mr. Trump can remain on the primary ballot in Colorado and on other ballots around the nation — and by a lopsided, if not unanimous, vote.

But if the chief justice’s project of evenhanded nonpartisanship is to prevail, the court will have to rule against Mr. Trump in a separate case heading to the court, the one in which he claims absolute immunity from prosecution for his conduct leading up to and on Jan. 6, 2021.

Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote in Slate that the outline of a “grand bargain” was coming into view.

“The Supreme Court unanimously, or nearly so, holds that Colorado does not have the power to remove Donald Trump from the ballot, but in a separate case it rejects his immunity argument and makes Trump go on trial this spring or summer on federal election subversion charges,” he wrote.

Legal experts said that the sheer number of arguments in the case argued Thursday, an appeal of a Colorado Supreme Court ruling knocking Mr. Trump off the state’s primary ballot, made a ruling in his favor from the justices probable.

“He seems likely to prevail if for no other reason than that the grab bag of reasons offered something for just about every justice,” said Michael Dorf, a law professor at Cornell, who added that Justice Sonia Sotomayor may be an exception.

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