Home Explainer Trump Gains Advantage From U.S. Supreme Court Ruling On ‘President’s Immunity’

Trump Gains Advantage From U.S. Supreme Court Ruling On ‘President’s Immunity’

Donald Trump has got a shot in the arm after the U.S. Supreme ruled that he had broad immunity as President. It’s a landmark ruling as it talks of immunity for the U.S. president from prosecution for the first time. In a 6-3 majority ruling, where three judges dissented, the court said that Donald Trump cannot be prosecuted for any actions that were within his constitutional powers as president. So does that mean Donald Trump cannot be prosecuted for what happened when he was President? That’s up to the courts to decide. Lower courts will now have to take a call on whether what Donald Trump did or said was an official act as President or a private act. He can’t be prosecuted for anything that is deemed official.

It certainly makes the job of Special Counsel Jack Smith that much harder. He is pursuing the case against Trump for attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

While Donald Trump has called the ruling a big win for the constitution and democracy, Joe Biden has said it sets a dangerous precedent. “For all practical purposes, today’s decision almost certainly means that there are virtually no limits on what a president can do,” Biden said in a media address.

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The ruling is certain to delay the criminal trials against Donald Trump, who is the first U.S. President to be convicted of a crime. Analysts say it also has larger ramifications for American democracy. Professor of Law at Hofstra University James Sample said the Supreme Court ruling has ‘handed President Trump a victory as he’s nearing the finish line of the campaign.’
“…If that immunity is so broad as to encompass things that are, by every other definition, illegal, then official action on the part of the president can include things like self-aggrandizing efforts to stay in power despite the attempt to stay in power being manifestly at odds with every other law in a democratic system, including our election laws. That is scary, and as both Justice Sotomayor and Justice Jackson point out in their dissents, what this sets up in terms of an incentive structure ought to be terrifying to every American and, frankly, every citizen around the world who believes in the rule of law,” he added.

Claire Wofford, Director of Pre-Law Advising Program, College of Charleston also has a word of caution. “If a president decides to pursue criminal or allegedly criminal or what might come close to criminal activity, he now has much more protection from criminal prosecution than he did before. What you’ve now done is freed up a president to basically engage in criminal activity with a very small chance of a chance of accountability, then this not only reshapes the presidency, it can reshape the entire functioning of American democracy.”

It seems unlikely that any of the three criminal cases can come up for trial before the Presidential elections of November 5. In addition, in the event that Donald Trump wins, he can also change officials in the justice department, who can then simply drop the cases against the former President.