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Trump Immune, Biden The King?

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that presidents are immune from prosecution for actions taken while performing “official acts.” This ruling has sparked significant debate, with both the majority opinion and the dissenting voices from the liberal justices offering powerful perspectives.

Does This Mean Biden Is Immune Too If He Locks Up Trump?

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Quick Summary

The 6-3 ruling sent the question of whether some of former President Trump’s alleged actions related to the January 6th events qualify as official acts back to the lower courts for further determination.

Majority Opinion

Chief Justice John Roberts, representing the majority, emphasized the constitutional need for presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts during their tenure.

Chief Justice John Roberts:

  • “We conclude that under our constitutional structure of separated powers, the nature of Presidential power requires that a former President have some immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts during his tenure in office. At least with respect to the President’s exercise of his core constitutional powers, this immunity must be absolute. As for his remaining official actions, he is also entitled to immunity.”

Roberts cited discussions with acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen as clear examples of official duties. However, he acknowledged that Trump’s interactions with former Vice President Mike Pence, state officials, private parties, and public comments raise more complex questions.

Dissenting Voices

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a passionate dissent, warned of the dangers this broad immunity could pose to democracy.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor:

  • “With fear for our democracy, I dissent. The relationship between the President and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law.”
  • “It is a far greater danger if the President feels empowered to violate federal criminal law, buoyed by the knowledge of future immunity.”

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson echoed these concerns, highlighting the threat to accountability and the rule of law.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson:

  • “For my part, I simply cannot abide the majority’s senseless discarding of a model of accountability for criminal acts that treats every citizen of this country as being equally subject to the law—as the Rule of Law requires.”
  • “That core principle has long prevented our Nation from devolving into despotism. Yet the Court now opts to let down the guardrails of the law for one extremely powerful category of citizen: any future President who has the will to flout Congress’s established boundaries.”

The decision has set the stage for ongoing debates about the limits of presidential power and the future of accountability in the highest office.

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