Not only America, but the eyes of the world were on Washington DC yesterday. The Supreme Court discussed the case that would determine the fate of Donald Trump. I will get to the historic session and its details, but first, let me summarize the last-minute developments regarding the F-16 acquisition process, which has occupied the Turkish public opinion for the last two years.
As is known, by purchasing S-400 air defense systems from Russia, the Erdoğan regime has inflicted a historic blow on Turkey. Thus, Turkey was kicked out of the fifth-generation fighter jet project, the F-35, in which it was a production partner. Left without aircraft, Turkey attempted to acquire outdated F-16 fighter jets. The negotiations with America on this have been ongoing for the last two years. Today is the final day of that negotiation.
If there is no objection to the Biden administration’s offer by the end of business hours Eastern Time, Turkey’s long-protracted project to acquire F-16s will conclude. Of course, the delivery of the aircraft to Turkey will take many years, but at least the legal process will have concluded.
As I mentioned in a previous article, the objection by Republican Senator Rand Paul is not likely to affect the outcome. It is very likely that this discussion will have concluded by the early hours of the morning in Turkey.
Let’s return to the historic hearing that will determine Donald Trump’s fate, which I mentioned at the beginning. I call it historic because the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court is not only crucial for the U.S. but also for the rest of the world.
It is not clear whether Trump will participate in the elections or not because the discussion has evolved into a debate on how democratic systems can protect themselves against authoritarian-populist leaders. Before discussing what happened at the hearing, let’s summarize the process.
As known, Donald Trump is storming through the Republican Party’s primaries. It appears that Trump will be Biden’s opponent in the November 5 elections. However, it is not yet clear whether Trump can participate in the elections, as Colorado and Maine states have decided that he cannot appear on the presidential ballots in these states.
The Colorado Supreme Court, on December 19, 2023, ruled that Donald Trump committed ‘insurrection and rebellion’ during the January 6 Capitol riot and banned him from participating in presidential elections. A week later, on December 28, the state of Maine made a similar decision.
Trump appealed the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court on January 3. The court, which is majority composed of justices appointed by Trump, took the case on its agenda. With this case, the U.S. Supreme Court will for the first time discuss the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which bans individuals involved in insurrection from holding public office. This was the history behind yesterday’s hearing, which dominated the U.S. news all day.
The U.S. Supreme Court consists of 9 justices, and 6 are from the conservative wing, implying a panel close to Trump. However, do not be misled by this, as U.S. Supreme Court justices are respected individuals committed to the law, unlike the judiciary system in Turkey, which is seen as politically influenced.
Indeed, the justices appointed by Trump have made several decisions against him to date. The U.S. Supreme Court is a powerful institution with respected judges and transparent practices.
For instance, court sessions are broadcast live on the internet, allowing you to listen in real-time to who said what and the arguments they presented.
Yesterday, the U.S. media broadcast live from the session for hours. I had shared my impressions from attending a Supreme Court session on the Halkbank case in a previous article.
As I detailed there, the 9 justices in the Supreme Court engage in substantial discussions with the parties, thoroughly debating the issue’s essence, philosophy, and potential complications. The court more closely resembles a university podium for intellectual discussions than a courtroom.
During yesterday’s hearing, Trump’s lawyers first took the floor. After thoroughly presenting their legal arguments, they characterized the January 6 events as ‘insurrection.’ According to Trump’s legal team, the events do not fit the framework described in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. The attorneys for Colorado, on the other hand, outlined why the state court’s decision was correct.
Colorado’s lawyers primarily argued that the state’s authority served as a sort of ‘safety valve’ to protect democracy. The court session lasted all day, and the justices asked substantial questions to the parties.
The decision could favor Trump Observing the atmosphere in the room, it seems likely that the justices are skeptical of Colorado’s arguments, indicating a probable decision in favor of Trump. If the decision is in favor of Colorado, other states might make similar decisions, potentially complicating matters further.
According to leading U.S. analysts, the Supreme Court does not want to be in a position to decide the president. Indeed, the Supreme Court had the final say in the 2000 presidential election. Therefore, the Supreme Court has been at the center of ‘politicization’ discussions for years. It is unexpected for the court to make a decision against Trump and become the center of political controversy.
Regarding the global interest,
The U.S. elections concern everyone globally. Who sits in the White House is a matter of interest to everyone, especially if one of the candidates is Donald Trump, considering what he did in his first term. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that people are more interested in the U.S. elections than in their own country’s elections.
The philosophical aspect of yesterday’s sessions goes deeper.
The question is; what happens if populist authoritarian leaders legitimately come to power and suspend the law? Can the system protect itself by establishing certain barriers against such a possibility? This was essentially the crux of yesterday’s Supreme Court session.
From the questions and comments of the justices, it seems the court does not want to make decisions that could be interpreted as interfering in politics. Therefore, it looks like the decision will likely favor Trump.
It can be said that, as of yesterday, Donald Trump has overcome his biggest hurdle on the path to the presidency. Trump had already caught a significant tailwind, and a favorable decision from the Supreme Court will only strengthen him further.
On the other hand, his opponent Biden is going through tough times. His advancing age and frequent gaffes are causing concern even among his supporters. President Biden stood in front of the cameras last night saying, “my memory is good,” but even Democrats are not convinced. We are witnessing an interesting campaign period from every aspect.