Ginsburg May Have Given Key To Overturning Trump Verdict

By Robert Cunningham, updated on February 27, 2024

The echoes of Justice Ginsburg's words may reverberate in an unexpected way.

Former President Donald Trump is invoking a Supreme Court ruling by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in his appeal against a $355 million civil fraud judgment.

Trump's Legal Struggle Anchored by Historical Ruling

The legal battle facing former President Donald Trump might take a turn, leveraging the wisdom of a justice who was once his critic. In a twist of fate, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's majority opinion in the 2019 Supreme Court case, Timbs v. Indiana, forms the cornerstone of Trump's Eighth Amendment defense against a hefty civil fraud judgment.

This comes after New York Judge Arthur Engoron's decision in favor of the state, ruling that the Trump Organization inflated property values to secure better loan terms.

Engoron's ruling imposed a staggering $355 million fine on Trump, coupled with $100 million in interest, accruing daily—a sum that Trump's legal team argues violates the Eighth Amendment, which protects against excessive fines. Their argument is bolstered by the Supreme Court's assertion in Timbs v. Indiana that the Eighth Amendment applies to the states.

Lawyers for Trump insist that no victims were harmed, as all loans were repaid and banks profited from the transactions.

Timbs v. Indiana: A Shield Against Excessive Punishment

In the context of Trump's appeal, Justice Ginsburg's opinion in the Timbs case underscores a historic protection against disproportionate financial penalties. She eloquently stated:

Protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history for good reason: Such fines undermine other liberties. They can be used, e.g., to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies.

This ruling could provide a strong foundation for the argument that Trump's fine is not only excessive but also potentially punitive for reasons beyond the financial transgressions alleged.

It's a point that conservative commentator Mark Levin has highlighted, suggesting that the campaign statements of New York Attorney General Letitia James, who vowed to target Trump, might reveal an intent that could affect the appeal process. James' statements during her campaign, where she referred to Trump as an "illegitimate president," have been pointed out as evidence of potential bias.

Legal Experts Weigh In on the Appeal's Merits

The magnitude of the judgment against Trump has not escaped scrutiny from legal experts. Jonathan Turley, a recognized legal scholar, commented on the potential for the ruling to be perceived as excessive and shocking. This perspective, shared by many conservatives, is likely to shape the discourse as Trump's appeal moves forward.

Attorney General James' office built the case against Trump using New York Executive Law 63(12), which does not require the demonstration of damages. This has led to a unique situation reported by The Associated Press, where Trump's organization faces the threat of dissolution without proof of significant losses. Moreover, the language used by Engoron in his ruling and the proximity of the fine to the amount sought by James' office may lend credence to claims of bias against Trump.

In a recent Fox News town hall, Trump himself read the text of the Eighth Amendment, indicating his focus on constitutional defense. The legal journey ahead for Trump and his organization is poised to test the limits and interpretation of this fundamental protection.

Trump's Legal Gambit: Invoking Ginsburg's Legacy in a High-Stakes Appeal

Former President Donald Trump's legal team draws from a 2019 Supreme Court ruling by late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to contest a $355 million civil fraud judgment. Leveraging the Eighth Amendment's protection against excessive fines, Trump's attorneys argue the fine undermines liberties and may be retaliatory, given the absence of any direct victims and the profits banks made from the loans in question.

The late justice's opinion in Timbs v. Indiana becomes a key asset in Trump's appeal as legal experts debate the fine's excessiveness and implications for state-level enforcement.

Trump's contentious relationship with Justice Ginsburg and New York Attorney General Letitia James adds to the charged atmosphere surrounding this appeal. As the case progresses, it may set a significant precedent for the application of constitutional protections against state-imposed penalties

About Robert Cunningham

With years of experience at the forefront of political commentary, Robert Cunningham brings a blend of sharp wit and deep insight to his analysis of American principles at the Capitalism Institute.

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