Editors at National Review Online push back against the U.S. Supreme Court’s current critics.

The Supreme Court on Thursday heard arguments about whether Donald Trump is entitled to immunity from prosecution for his official acts as president and, if so, how that works: What acts are official? Is the immunity absolute or qualified? Does immunity depend upon whether the president acted within his powers or whether his lawyers told him he did? When and how does a court — or a jury — decide?

The very fact that the Court heard the case has prompted a round of assaults on the legitimacy of the Court from the same liberal and progressive quarters that have been attacking the Republican-appointed justices for the past eight years. There are the usual claims that the fix is in for Trump, that the justices are enabling a dictatorship, or that the Court’s conservatives are betraying their stated principles. The critics are at best premature and at worst affirmatively misleading.

The Court was right to take this case. The Supreme Court exists to answer legal questions such as these in ways that provide guidance and certainty by establishing neutral rules that apply equally to all. Presidents have been previously protected from prosecution in part by norms of behavior. Now that Trump has been deluged with criminal charges, however, that Rubicon has been crossed by him and his critics. It will be difficult to go back, especially now that both parties have concluded that removing presidents by impeachment is practically impossible, so that pressure builds up in the system to use stronger medicine. Trump himself is running on a pledge of “retribution,” so it is far from fanciful to imagine him pushing for a prosecution of Joe Biden. The Court may not need to answer every question about presidential immunity now, but it can at least begin the task of establishing rules that will apply in the future regardless of which party is in power, and which is in the dock.