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US Supreme Court’s Immunity Ruling and Its Impact on the Presidency

The decision by the Supreme Court on the scope of presidential immunity has drawn sentiments from experts, claiming it will have a transforming impact on the United States government.


Former President Donald Trump, who is currently facing criminal charges over his conduct, where he is accused of attempting to overturn the 2020 elections during his final days in office, will be immune from prosecution for his actions while in office, the US top court ruled on Monday.

A ruling that has been termed a partial victory for Trump, that former US presidents cannot be prosecuted for official actions taken while in office will likely delay two of Trump’s criminal cases beyond the presidential elections in November, as a lower court will first need to hear arguments over what constitutes an official action.

Before Trump, no former US president had ever been indicted.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, David Super, a law professor at Georgetown University, said that the ruling will have a remarkable impact on presidential powers beyond its immediate effect.

“This fundamentally transforms the presidency,” Super told Al Jazeera. “Here, the court says the president is still subject to the law, but they’ve made that much, much narrower than it ever was before. These are certainly the powers that are much more familiar to dictators than to presidents of democratic countries.”

The Supreme Court’s nine justices made the ruling on Monday with the majority, six, approving the ruling, by arguing that unless official actions were shielded from legal repercussions, a president could face retribution from political opponents upon leaving office. At the same time, their three liberal counterparts opposed it.

In her dissent, liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor forcefully rejected the ruling as well.

“The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the country, and possibly the world. When he uses his official powers in any way, under the majority’s reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution,” she wrote. “Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune.”

Speaking, Super the law Professor said that the judge’s sentiment was not hyperbolic. “There’s no other official that can overrule the president in the command of the military. And so his giving the military order would be immunized by this decision,” he said.

Before Trump, no former US president had ever been indicted. The former president is facing four sets of criminal charges, including two related to election subversion.


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