Upcoming court rulings could have a profound impact on setting parameters for presidential authority.
Both in Federal courts and in the Senate, U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyers have argued that the Constitution confers on a president broad protection from scrutiny by Congress, prosecutors, and the judiciary for his actions.
This expansive view of presidential powers may have helped the Republican president win acquittal, and for now, he is the first impeached president to seek re-election.
The final verdict of the third impeachment in U.S. history was the predicted one. Seven weeks after being formally charged by the House of Representatives with impeachable offenses, after nearly five months of investigations, and nearly three weeks of trial in the Senate, Trump was exonerated.
During the impeachment trial, his legal team argued for an unconstrained presidency. They also said that charges brought by the House - abuse of power and contempt of Congress - did not cover conduct that amounted to impeachable offenses.
His lawyers also argued that the Constitution renders presidents immune from all criminal investigations and that even if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue prosecutors would be powerless to act while Trump was still in office.
This sweeping assessment of presidential power would embolden Trump and future presidents to act with impunity, assured The House speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Because of the Republican Senate’s betrayal of the Constitution, the President remains an ongoing threat to American democracy, with his insistence that he is above the law and that he can corrupt the elections if he wants to.— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 5, 2020
Meanwhile, a raft of court rulings due in the coming weeks and months could have an even more profound impact on setting the parameters for a president’s authority.
On March 31, three cases will be argued before the Supreme Court focusing on Trump’s contention that a House of Representatives committee and a New York City prosecutor are powerless to enforce subpoenas to obtain his financial records.
In addition to this, the Supreme Court eventually could be called upon to decide another major case now awaiting a ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
In that one, the Justice Department argued that senior presidential aides are immune from congressional subpoenas for a testimony like the one issued by the House Judiciary Committee to former White House's counsel Don McGahn.
Even so, the rulings in those cases could set enduring legal precedents.