The One Line in the Supreme Court “Bridgegate” Decision That Sums Up Now

There’s a reason why the petty actions of Christie’s aides feel at once jarring and instantly recognizable.

Alex Edelman/ZUMA

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On Thursday, the Supreme Court threw out the convictions of key allies to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the notorious scandal known as “Bridgegate.”

The unanimous decision was at once a jarring throwback—who can properly recall anything before Donald Trump—and instantly recognizable. After all, two political aides emerging essentially unscathed despite overwhelming evidence of public corruption seems entirely appropriate, even expected, for this current moment. 

One line in the ruling all but admitted as much. Here’s Justice Elena Kagan writing for the court:

The evidence the jury heard no doubt shows wrongdoing—deception, corruption, abuse of power. But the federal fraud statutes at issue do not criminalize all such conduct.

A similar legal calculus could be applied to countless acts of malfeasance we’ve seen from the Trump administration, including the events that sparked Trump’s impeachment. (Recall the president’s lawyers claiming that abuse of power isn’t necessarily an impeachable offense.) Moreover, creating a traffic jam as a form of political retribution, as Christie’s aides did in 2013, is exactly the kind of petty criminal behavior that fuels Trumpworld.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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