To the surprise of nobody, former President Donald Trump does not want the Department of Justice to be able to look into the full scope of classified documents seized during an FBI search at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Trump has filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court to get an independent arbiter for possibly more than 100 documents marked as classified, according to CNN.
Justice Clarence Thomas oversees litigation from the circuit court handling the special master order appeal, so he received Trump’s request directly. Afterward, Thomas gave the Justice Department a deadline of 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 11, to respond. Given everything we know over the past year, the big question is why Justice Thomas can make decisions on any Trump document case.
A ruling from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit narrowed the independent arbiter’s job duties, enabling the Justice Department to avoid providing him with classified documents to review. Trump is challenging this because he’s posing the argument that as a former president, he had a right to possess certain government documents. Trump also claimed in a filing to the court that he would undergo “reputational harm of a decidedly different order of magnitude” if he were indicted based on evidence that had been unlawfully seized.
Given the makeup of the Supreme Court, this poses a significant advantage for Trump. However, this would see Justice Thomas making decisions in another document case. As we know, Thomas was the only judge to vote against turning over documents from former President Donald Trump to the Jan. 6 committee. There’s also the matter of his wife Ginni and her activities trying to change election results to Trump’s favor.
Confidence in the objectivity of the Supreme Court is at an all-time low, and this certainly won’t help matters. Supreme Court justices have to recuse themselves from cases based on the honor system. However, that is pretty much guaranteed not to happen here. Thus, we need some checks and balances.