John Finn (2)


No. I have asked and answered this question in much of my scholarly work. Constitutional rot, indeed….

The Court’s decision in Trump v. United States (2024) settles the question for any fair-minded observer.

Reprint of Talia Jane, The New Republic, https://newrepublic.com/post/183324/sotomayor-dissent-supreme-court-trump-immunity-case

In a devastating 6–3 decision issued Monday, the conservative supermajority of the Supreme Court did what it was installed by Trump to do and twisted the Constitution to shield Trump from criminal liability for crimes he committed in office. The case was brought to the Supreme Court by Trump in an attempt to evade prosecution for his alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The decision effectively gives a green light to all future presidents to commit as many crimes as they want while in office. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor put it, “the President is now a king above the law.”

Sotomayor led in the chilling dissent, joined by liberal justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Sotomayor’s dissent is charged with fierce criticisms of the decision, noting that the conservative majority “invents an atextual, ahistorical, and unjustifiable immunity that puts the President above the law” and “makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government, that no man is above the law.”

Sotomayor shredded the conservative decision by examining the intentions laid out by the Founding Fathers in contrast to the current ambitions of Trump and the justices aligned with him—a seemingly originalist examination refuting the conservative justices’ recent trend of augmenting the law to come to a politically advantageous decision.

“Relying on little more than its own misguided wisdom about the need for ‘bold and unhesitating action’ by the President, the Court gives former President Trump all the immunity he asked for and more.”

“The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the country, and possibly the world,” Sotomayor wrote. “When he uses his official powers in any way, under the majority’s reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution. Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune.”

“Let the President violate the law, let him exploit the trappings of his office for personal gain, let him use his official power for evil ends. Because if he knew that he may one day face liability for breaking the law, he might not be as bold and fearless as we would like him to be. That is the majority’s message today. Even if these nightmare scenarios never play out, and I pray they never do, the damage has been done.”

Sotomayor’s dissent cast dark clouds over the fate of the country, writing, “The relationship between the President and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law.”

“Never in the history of our Republic has a President had reason to believe that he would be immune from criminal prosecution if he used the trappings of his office to violate the criminal law,” wrote Sotomayor. “Moving forward, however, all former Presidents will be cloaked in such immunity. If the occupant of that office misuses official power for personal gain, the criminal law that the rest of us must abide will not provide a backstop,” she added.

“With fear for our democracy, I dissent,” Sotomayor concluded.

John E. Finn is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Government at Wesleyan University, where he taught courses in constitutional theory and public law, as well as in cuisine and popular culture.

Finn’s newest book, Fracturing the Founding: How the Alt-Right Corrupts the Constitution, is available here: Fracturing the Founding.

Finn’s book on the history, philosophy, and meaning of omelets, including recipes, The Perfect Omelet, is available in hard copy or Kindle and can be ordered (preferably) through your local book store, through  Amazon and other major booksellers, or at theperfectomelet.com

Finn is also the author of three other books on constitutional theory and law: Peopling the Constitution (2014), American Constitutional Law: Essays, Cases, and Comparative Notes 4th ed. (with Donald P. Kommers, Gary J. Jacobsohn, George Thomas, and Justin Dyer, 2018), and Constitutions in Crisis: Political Violence and the Rule of Law (1991). Finn has also published in several law reviews, including the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Constitutional Commentary, New York University Journal of Law and International Politics, and Georgetown Law Journal.

Finn is an internationally recognized expert on constitutional theory, the rule of law and political violence, and the First Amendment. His public lectures include testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, as well as lectures in Bolivia, Canada, Chile, England, France, Italy, and Spain.

Finn’s scholarship and writing in the field of food studies lay at the intersection of food, recipes, and politics. His published works in food studies include “How Does a Recipe Mean,” in Table Matters: A Journal of Food, Drink, and Manners (2016), an entry on “Measurements,” in The Oxford Companion to Sweets, ed. Darra Goldstein (2015), an essay on Julia Child in Gastronomica (2007), and articles on “The Perfect Recipe,” (2011) and “The Kitchen Voice as Confessional,” (2004) in Food, Culture & Society.

Professor Finn earned his B.A. in Political Science from Nasson College, a J.D. from Georgetown University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Princeton University. He also has a degree from the French Culinary Institute.

Finn is the recipient of five distinguished teaching awards at Wesleyan University.