“A Slow Check & Balance”: Newsweek Speaks to William C. Snyder About SCOTUS & Presidential Power

BRETT KAVANAUGH HAS POWER TO STRENGTHEN DONALD TRUMP, BUT SUPREME COURT HAS BOOSTED PRESIDENTS FOR DECADES

(Newsweek | July 20, 2018) Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s opposition to a sitting president potentially facing an indictment, as well as the court’s lengthy history in bending the Constitution to favor a president’s powers, could raise as much concern among opponents of President Donald Trump’s nominee as his potential threat to abortion rights.

But as Snyder noted, the court is “retroactive” and thus reactionary. And that leaves it beholden to the actions taken by a president.

For a president who has openly flaunted what he believes is the power to pardon himself, Trump may have taken into account Kavanaugh’s views on executive power and how much power the U.S. Constitution places in the president.

The nominee’s belief in presidential power may even extend to criminal prosecutions. Kavanaugh, who Monday said would “keep an open mind in every case,” distinctly laid out his view over whether a sitting president should face criminal charges while in office in 2009 for the Minnesota Law Review. He based the interpretation on his experience with George W. Bush’s administration …

… Many of these decisions by the court would suggest the judiciary often bows to the executive branch, but William C. Snyder, Teaching Professor at Syracuse Law School and expert on federal courts, disagreed.

“Our federal courts are reactive. They only respond to actual cases and controversies. So, they seem to be a slow check and balance in a world that moves fast. But, the Supreme Court does come around,” Snyder told Newsweek in an email.

But as Snyder noted, the court is “retroactive” and thus reactionary. And that leaves it beholden to the actions taken by a president, one who Snyder admits could have ulterior motives.

“Yes, it may well be that this president is more concerned with finding a justice who will uphold executive power in general than with finding one whose position on a particular policy or right matches his own,” Snyder said. “[T]his president is known to shift his own positions, so a justice who would uphold executive power, in general, would be more useful to him.”

Read the whole article.