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Supreme Court ruling on Trump taxes, financial records

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  • The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down President Donald Trump’s efforts to stop New York investigators from subpoenaing his taxes and financial documents.
  • The court ruled 7-2 in favor of the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which subpoenaed the president’s tax returns as it investigates whether he or his business violated state laws.
  • In a separate 7-2 ruling, the court also determined that Congress has the power to subpoena the president’s financial records, but it sent the matter down to the lower courts to assess “separation of powers concerns.”
  • In both cases, Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the majority opinion, in which Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagain joined.
  • Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion in the judgment, and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito filed dissenting opinions.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In a blockbuster ruling on Thursday, the Supreme Court struck down President Donald Trump’s efforts to block New York investigators from obtaining his financial records.

In Trump v. Vance, the court ruled 7-2 in favor of the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which subpoenaed Trumps’s tax returns as it investigates whether he or his business violated state laws.

Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the majority opinion, in which Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagain joined. Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion in the judgment, and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito filed dissenting opinions.

The majority opinion made it clear that Trump can still raise constitutional and legal objections to subpoenas in court, which Kavanaugh and Gorsuch emphasized in their concurring opinions.

But they added, “In our system of government, as this Court has often stated, no one is above the law. That principle applies, of course, to a President. At the same time, in light of Article II of the Constitution, this Court has repeatedly declared— and the Court indicates again today—that a court may not proceed against a President as it would against an ordinary litigant.”

The court also ruled against Trump in a second case in which the president sued his accounting firm and bank to stop them from complying with congressional subpoenas for his financial records. The justices ruled 7-2 in Trump v. Mazars USA that Congress has the power to subpoena the president’s financial records, but it also sent the case down to the lower courts to assess “separation of powers concerns.”

In Trump v. Vance, the president’s personal defense lawyer, Jay Sekulow, made a broad and unprecedented claim: that Trump is immune from any criminal investigation or prosecution while in office.

Justices on both sides of the aisle were highly skeptical of Sekulow’s argument and repeatedly asked him during oral arguments in May to elaborate on why Trump should be above the law, and why the court should differentiate between a civil proceeding — like Clinton v. Jones, in which the court ruled that Bill Clinton had to respond to Paula Jones’ lawsuit — and a criminal proceeding.

Carey Dunne, the general counsel for the Manhattan DA’s office, highlighted the unprecedented nature of Sekulow’s argument and said the president has “responsibilities like every other citizen.”

He also argued that the office would have been “remiss” not to investigate Trump’s taxes after public reports indicated that his company, which is headquartered in Manhattan, may have engaged in illegal activity.

Overall, the justices asked questions that aligned with each of their respective ideological camps. But Roberts frequently questioned lawyers for both sides with equal scrutiny, making it tougher to gauge which way he would ultimately rule on the cases.

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