No one, including federal judges and former presidents, stands above the law

By | December 2, 2022

Shan Wu writes:

Let’s be clear: Judge Cannon tried to halt a national security investigation by enjoining DOJ from access to documents seized in the search warrant through what’s called “equitable relief’ – the powers judges use to issue injunctions.

The 11th Circuit appeals judges explicitly recognized the danger in Judge Cannon’s action, noting that Trump’s arguments for a special master “would allow any subject of a search warrant to invoke a federal court’s equitable jurisdiction”–in other words, every criminal defendant could seek to use civil litigation to interfere with criminal cases. In fact, the appeals court brushed aside the numerous arguments raised by Trump (and contested by DOJ) about the definition of personal records versus ones that fall under the Presidential Records Act, executive privilege, attorney-client privilege, and whether Trump had de-classified documents–even ignoring Trump’s claim that he can declassify by the power of thought alone–to focus on simply whether Cannon had lacked any jurisdiction to hear the case at all.

Their reversal of Judge Cannon’s decision was done in an unsigned per curiam opinion–indicating unanimous agreement in their decision. Their language was crisp but brutal in its rebuke to Cannon’s overstepping of her bounds reminding her and Trump that federal courts have jurisdiction limited by Constitution and statute and cannot expand their powers merely “by judicial decree.” Perhaps it is not surprising that a Trump-appointed judge appears to share Trump’s belief that power can be exerted merely by decree. [Continue reading…]

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