Supreme Court

All the President's Papers

A preliminary assessment of Trump v. Mazars and Trump v. Vance.


The Supreme Court's late oral arguments led to an extension of the Supreme Court's term into July, and the later release of decisions than is usual. This created quite a challenge for those of us asked to analyze opinions from this Court's term for the Cato Supreme Court Review, given the journal's aggressive production schedule. The CSCR is released each year on Constitution Day, September 17, and this year is no exception.

My assignment for the review was Trump v. Mazars and Trump v. Vance. While it took some doing, my article on the decisions ("All the President's Papers") is done, and a draft is on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In a pair of cases during the 2019-20 Term, Trump v. Vance and Trump v. Mazars, the Supreme Court revisited questions of presidential immunity and the scope of legislative oversight that infrequently come before the Court. In two opinions by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court rejected broad claims of presidential immunity while recognizing the real separation of powers concerns raised by any investigation of the President. In these two decisions, the Court reaffirmed two fundamental constitutional values: 1) No person is above the law; 2) The powers of Congress are limited. In the process, the Court also demonstrated an ability to resolve important constitutional questions without descending into the political polarization that engulfs the body politic in 2020.

I will present this paper at Cato's 19th Annual Constitution Day conference, when the 2019-20 CSCR will be released. Other speakers include Stephen Vladeck, Robin Fretwell Wilson, Tom Goldstein, Justice Clint Bolick, and the VC's own Keith Whittington. A keynote will also be given by the Honorable Don Willett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. You can register for the conference (which will be online due to Covid-19) here.