US Supreme Court rules Donald Trump is immune from prosecution for official acts

The US Supreme Court has rejected former President Donald Trump’s claim of immunity from prosecution, ruling that while former presidents are immune from prosecution for their official acts, they are not immune from unofficial acts.

Monday’s historic 6-3 ruling doesn’t answer the question of what is an official or unofficial act. Instead, the court kicks the question back to the lower courts to figure out precisely how to apply the decision to Trump’s case.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts writes that “Trump asserts a far broader immunity than the limited one we have recognized.”

Roberts was joined by the other five conservative justices. The three liberal justices dissented.

“Today’s decision to grant former presidents criminal immunity reshapes the institution of the presidency. It makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of government, that no man is above the law,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a scathing dissent.

Sotomayor, who read a summary of her dissent aloud in the courtroom, said the protection afforded presidents by the court “is just as bad as it sounds, and it is baseless.

The outcome means additional delay before Trump could face trial in the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith, all but ending prospects the former president could be tried before the November election.

If Trump’s Washington trial does not take place before the 2024 election and he is not given another four years in the White House, he will stand trial thereafter.

But if he wins, he could appoint an attorney general who would seek the dismissal of this case and the other federal prosecution he faces. He could also attempt to pardon himself if he reclaims the White House. 

 

The case stems from Trump’s attempts to have charges against him dismissed. Lower courts have found he cannot claim immunity for actions that, prosecutors say, illegally sought to interfere with the election results.

Trump has been charged in federal court in Washington with conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, one of three criminal cases he is still facing.

Earlier this month, Trump was convicted in New York of 34 counts of falsifying business records arising from what prosecutors said was an attempt to cover up a hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 presidential election.

 

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