The Supreme Court (SC) of the US repudiated Trump’s claim to ‘absolute immunity’ with regards to public disclosure of tax returns by passing judgements for complete release in the spirit of transparency, thereby reinforcing the writ of the state.

All democratic nations are built on the basis of a social contract; the state provides for its citizens so long as they fulfil their duties—one of which is to file tax returns. Needless to say, this is a process that demands complete openness from both stakeholders; one that Donald Trump promised to adhere to during his election campaigns but has failed to live up to. Insisting on maintaining secrecy by claiming immunity, he invited suspicion as the population struggled with a lack of confidence in the office holder, forcing the SC to act on Thursday. It is surprising that the limits of presidential power were not challenged up until then.

The call to release tax statements came from the concept of a citizen’s duty, by law, to produce evidence when partaking in a criminal court proceeding. This has re-established the fact that no individual, even the president, can stand above the law. However, the SC’s decision to move the case to the lower courts has disabled the Congress from obtaining records immediately. This means that they will not be released to the public until November, after the elections. Thus, the reality becomes that Donald Trump does not have to suffer the outcome until later—leaving the status quo as it is.

While a major precedent has been set for Trump and the many office holders that are to come, not much has changed in the short term. Even the immediacy of action depends on the politicians elected later this year and the will of the people.