Patterico's Pontifications


Open Thread: Supreme Court Ruling On Trump Immunity

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:03 am

[guest post by Dana]

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 along ideological lines. You can read the full opinion here.

From Chief Justice Roberts:

The court holds that a former president has absolute immunity for his core constitutional powers. Former presidents are also entitled to at least a presumption of immunity for their official acts. There is no immunity, the court holds, for unofficial acts.

From Justice Sotomayor’s dissent:

. . .the Court gives former President Trump all the immunity he asked for and more. . . because our Constitution does not shield a former President from answering for criminal and treasonous acts, I dissent.

. . .

Historical evidence reinforces that, from the very beginning, the presumption in this Nation has always been that no man is free to flout the criminal law. The majority fails to recognize or grapple with the lack of historical evidence for its new immunity. With nothing on its side of the ledger, the most the majority can do is claim that the historical evidence is a wash.

The majority today endorses an expansive vision of Presidential immunity that was never recognized by the Founders, any sitting President, the Executive Branch, or even President Trump’s lawyers, until now. Settled understandings of the Constitution are of little use to the majority in this case, and so it ignores them.
Today’s Court … has replaced a presumption of equality before the law with a presumption that the President is above the law for all of his official acts.

The majority’s dividing line between “official” and “unofficial” conduct narrows the conduct considered “unofficial” almost to a nullity. … Under that rule, any use of official power for any purpose, even the most corrupt purpose indicated by objective evidence of the most corrupt motives and intent, remains official and immune. Under the majority’s test, if it can be called a test, the category of Presidential action that can be deemed “unofficial” is destined to be vanishingly small.

. . .

When Presidents use the powers of their office for personal gain or as part of a criminal scheme, every person in the country has an interest in that criminal prosecution. The majority overlooks that paramount interest entirely.

Note: The lower courts will determine “if any of Trump’s actions, were part of his official duties and thus were protected from prosecution.”

Long live the king.


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