The Brew: Democracy Plays Out at Supreme Court, Rules in Favor of Presidential Immunity

By Al Perrotta Published on July 2, 2024

Happy Tuesday! 

Today’s Brew was cooked up right outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. 

The Supreme Court Rules, Democracy Reigns

The sun broke out over the Supreme Court building Monday morning just minutes before the justices announced that presidents have immunity for acts done as part of their official duties. Surprisingly, for a decision that has so much of an impact on the upcoming presidential election, there were very few protesters on hand for it. In fact, they were outnumbered by death penalty opponents engaged in prayer and fasting over this weekend’s 52nd anniversary of a key Supreme Court decision, Furman v. Georgia.

But they made their presence known, especially a woman who had a boom box filling the plaza with some thumping 90’s alt rock club track droning for minutes on end, “Shame on You.” Definitely a pro.  Definitely causing a headache. Her setup seemed ready to adjust to whatever cause would serve the day’s purposes. Today Trump, a few months back abortion. And always a vulgar word for the “patriarchy.”

In the seconds after the decision was handed down and reporters and onlookers were figuring out what it meant, hers was the first voice to make clear how the court ruled. “Trump’s above the law!” she shouted. “Trump’s above the law!” As the most visible anti-Trump person on site, the media was drawn to her like flies to a lightbulb. Others, smarting from a series of decisions that stripped power from the administrative state and outlaw prosecutors, blasted the High Court, accusing the justices of all manner of corruption and having Trump as their “daddy.”

But you know what? Their reaction to the decision seemed muted. Almost rote. Perhaps their small numbers and general energy level perhaps was an after-effect of last Thursday night’s presidential debate debacle.

An American Gathering

What struck me most was the sheer American-ness of the whole scene playing out just across the street from the U.S. Capitol. On the other side of the building, work crews hammered and drilled to finish constructing the stage and setting for the annual “A Capitol Fourth” celebration coming up on Thursday night — our national birthday party.

The moments leading up to the ruling’s announcement built in both crowd numbers and tension. As the clock ticked toward 10:30 a.m., the plaza directly in front of the Supreme Court packed ever more tightly with people. Along with the protestors were tourists looking at them like monkeys at the National Zoo, then gawking at the line of reporters as if they were marvels at Statuary Hall.

Along the fence a female reporter with perfect, flowing, wavy blonde hair awaited the decision, not sweating the wind that in the natural should have turned her hair into a mess. A male reporter with slicked-back hair from a Spanish-language broadcaster slid through and around the crowd, head high, his steps quick. He was going to be reporting history!

Stepping back from him, I nearly bumped into a sleepy young production assistant for another news outlet. She was carrying the equipment that would help capture history. From her expression, it might as well have been a random school board meeting. This was work. Not a Moment That Could Help Determine the Fate of the Nation.

Across the street, two different camera setups were manned by two reporters with British accents, both explaining the options facing the court before the ruling was announced, and the meaning of the decision afterward. Those accents! They could be reporting car repair tips and still sound lofty and significant, elegant. We won the Revolution; we should have taken some of the British eloquence as our bounty.

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Almost everyone in the crowd, reporters and observers alike, had a cell phone out, waiting for some signal to hear how the court was deciding. I was refreshing the Supreme Court webpage on my own phone so often it looked like my thumb had a twitch.

Young Capitol Hill smarties in their sharp suits and leather loafers were eager for the breaking news. They were joined by crusty ol’ Washington hands in suits that were not as well fitting, who walked past with only a casual glance at the unfolding drama. They’d seen major Supreme Court cases — and young Capitol Hill hotshots — come and go. Perhaps they had even been those young hotshots at some point decades ago.

Two sights were particularly welcome: Parents with young children, with mom on one knee explaining to her young ones what was going on, what the Supreme Court does. I pray their visit to the Nation’s Capital helps make those lessons stick.

Then there was the man who calls himself the Truth Conductor, who sported a sign reading, “Stop Hating Each Other Because You Disagree.”

Here’s a shot of America on a good day.

Outside the Supreme Court, awaiting decision on presidential immunity, July 1, 2024

Crowd Chill, Leftist Elites Pitch a Fit

As news of the 6-3 decision spread, aside from the protesters, the general reaction was chill. There was no burst of applause, no chorus of boos. Unlike the political and media elites, including the liberal justices; their cries of woe and pending doom rattled windows across the river in Virginia.

Many echoed the exact same talking point (or bloodthirsty fantasy): With this decision, Joe Biden could (should) declare Donald Trump a threat to democracy and order his assassination, with no fear of consequence. Because you know, the MAGA Supreme Court had decided presidents are immune for official acts done in office.

This, as opposed to Joe Biden calling Trump a threat to democracy, with his allies calling for the elimination of Secret Service protection so Trump can be shanked when he is sent to prison on the felony counts the Biden administration helped cook up for him in a Manhattan courtroom earlier this year.

New York’s radical Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she’s going to introduce articles of impeachment against the Supreme Court for not ruling the way she liked. (Where was she when these same justices signed off on the abortion pill?) She called the decision an “assault on democracy.”

The Lesson of America

Is she kidding? We saw a wonderful slice of American democracy in the District of Columbia today.

You win some …

And you lose some …

Along The Stream

If AOC wants to talk about threats to democracy, she should check out Part 6 of our series “How They Stole the 2020 Election: Let My People Go Explains the Steal in Bite-Sized, Digestible Pieces.”

Or perhaps she should read the Constitution. The original is housed just a short walk from her office. (We’ll have more about that and the Declaration of Independence on Al’s Afternoon Tea on July 4.)

Meanwhile, Dr. Michael Brown has a good one up: “The End of Celebrity Christianity.”

 

Al Perrotta is The Stream’s Washington bureau chief, coauthor with John Zmirak of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration, and coauthor of the counterterrorism memoir Hostile Intent: Protecting Yourself Against Terrorism.

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