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What to remember from the US Supreme Court's decision on Trump's immunity?

Photo: Anna Moneymaker Getty Images via Agence France-Presse Donald Trump is the first former president of the United States convicted criminally by a jury. The United States Supreme Court ruled Monday that former presidents have immunity from prosecution for official acts they committed.

Andrew Jeong – The Washington Post and Frances Vinall – The Washington Post

Posted at 4:09 p.m.

  • United States

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that former President Donald Trump is immune from prosecution for official acts performed while in office, but not for those who are not. The judgment, rendered 6 votes to 3, divided the judges according to their ideological leanings. Here's what you need to know about this decision.

What is presidential immunity ?

Generally speaking, it t is the legal theory that past and current presidents enjoy some protection from lawsuits. In the context of Monday's Supreme Court ruling, it is a decision that Mr. Trump and others are immune from prosecution for actions taken in the exercise of their “essential constitutional powers » and are entitled to the presumption of immunity for their official acts. This immunity does not apply to private or unofficial acts.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that presidential immunity was necessary to ensure a “vigorous and independent executive branch” and to avoid an executive branch that “cannibalizes itself, with each president free to prosecute his predecessors but unable to discharge his duties boldly and fearlessly for fear of being the next to be sued.”

However, the majority opinion said the government could waive the presumption of immunity for the official acts of a former president if it could show that the prosecution under a particular action did not impinge on “the authority and functions of the executive branch,” the Washington Post reported.

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What has the Supreme Court defined as “official” versus “unofficial” acts ?

The Supreme Court has ruled that a president's official charge can extend to all actions as long as they do not “manifestly or palpably” exceed his authority.

It clarifies that the official conduct for which Mr. Trump is granted immunity from prosecution includes his discussions with Justice Department officials in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, discussions in which he sought to convince them to vigorously support unfounded allegations of voter fraud.

If Mr. Trump's attempts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to change the results of election may be considered official conduct, for which he is “presumed to be immune”, prosecutors can nevertheless argue that a charge related to communications with the vice president regarding the certification of Joe Biden's victory does not does not encroach on the functions of the executive, reported the Post.

Mr. Trump's interactions with state officials and individuals during his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election “cannot be categorized as official conduct,” the president said. majority opinion of the Supreme Court. The Court ordered the Washington District Court to “determine in the first instance…whether Mr. Trump's conduct in this matter qualifies as official or unofficial.”

Most of a president's “public communications are likely to fall comfortably within the bounds of his official responsibilities,” meaning they are covered by immunity, the justices also said.

What does the decision on presidential immunity mean for Trump ?

In the short term, the decision favors Mr. Trump in the election interference suit filed against him in Washington, which emanates from his request for review of presidential immunity, which gave rise to Monday's decision.

The case in Washington District Court, in which Mr. Trump faces four counts related to the accusation that he conspired to overturn the January 6 election, was significantly affected by the decision of the Supreme Court and will now be delayed. The judge must determine which acts performed were “official,” and therefore immune from prosecution, and which were “unofficial” and subject to prosecution. It is very unlikely that this decision will come before the November elections.

As for the two other criminal cases against Mr. Trump, the ruling could also affect the election interference case he faces in Georgia. It is unclear whether it will affect the case he faces in Florida, over classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago after his presidency. Finally, his lawyers have already appealed his conviction in New York for concealing a secret payment to an adult film actress shortly before the 2016 election.

More broadly, critics of the Supreme Court ruling, including President Joe Biden, have warned that Mr. Trump could become emboldened in a possible second term, knowing that he would enjoy immunity for actions that would have previously exposed him to prosecution.

What did the dissenting justices think? ?

The Court was divided along ideological lines, with the conservative majority — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, the latter three having been appointed by Mr. Trump — vindicating the former president. On the other side, liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ketanji Brown Jackson and Elena Kagan dissented.

In a scathing dissent, Justice Sotomayor listed actions she said would be protected by the ruling, including staging a military coup by a president, assassinating a rival or the acceptance of a bribe in exchange for a pardon. This “deeply flawed” decision “reshapes the institution of the presidency” and “makes a mockery of the principle, fundamental to our Constitution and our system of government, that no man is above the law,” a- she wrote.

“The long-term consequences of today's decision are very serious, she argued, adding: In each use of official power, the president is now a king above the law. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116