Nixon justices helped end his presidency. Will Trump’s force him to stand trial?

Nixon justices helped end his presidency. Will Trump’s force him to stand trial?

Fifty years ago, three of the justices Richard Nixon appointed to the Supreme Court joined in an 8-0 decision in the Watergate tapes case that effectively ended his presidency, ruling only 16 days after hearing the case. Nixon resigned from office just over two weeks later.

Now, three justices named by then-President Donald Trump sit on the court as it weighs whether and when he must stand trial on criminal charges that he conspired to overturn his 2020 election loss, a case they heard seven weeks ago. Two others also named by Republican presidents have brushed off criticism that they should step aside from the case over questions about their impartiality.

The outcome of the case, as well as a separate dispute over criminal charges faced by Trump and the hundreds of his supporters who violently attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, could further damage the court’s already diminished credibility if the justices are divided by ideology. Or it might provide a needed boost in the unlikely event conservatives and liberals can come to a consensus.

Any court majority favorable to Trump is highly likely to include at least two of his three nominees, Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, as well as conservative Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.

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