How will the Supreme Court respond to the Arpaio pardon?

There will be few if any leaks from the Supreme Court. But one must wonder what messages the justices are getting from Trump’s extraordinary pardon. Though its major import is Trump’s official endorsement of racist discrimination in law enforcement, a flagrant contempt for judges and courts is the subtext. The issue in the Arpaio case was the very integrity of the federal judiciary. He was not convicted of an ordinary crime, but of deliberately disobeying a federal court order and lying about that; but beyond that, during the litigation that led to his conviction for criminal contempt, he hired a private detective to investigate the wife of a federal judge hearing a case against his office. Any judge can understand the threat posed by law enforcement personnel who seek to strike back at judges and their families, perhaps for purposes of blackmail or revenge—and the deep arrogance of a president who regards such behavior as praiseworthy…

But increasingly, the question for the court—as for Congress, and for the country—is whether the republic survives not against external threat but against an unprecedented unremitting internal assault. A sense of proportion is necessary in crisis and calm; and even in the midst of shocking official misbehavior, the Arpaio pardon crosses a line. Trump has made it clear that the limits of the law, and the powers of the courts, hold no weight in his decision-making, and indeed will be brushed aside at his convenience.