Ex-Presidents Have Significant Protection From Prosecution, Says The Supreme Court

(NationalUSNews.com) — The United States Supreme Court ruled about presidential immunity, establishing that a former president has significant protection from prosecution if the prosecution relates to “official” acts. As for unofficial acts, the court has determined that a former president does not have immunity from prosecution and could thus face criminal charges.

The Supreme Court decision stems from former President Donald Trump’s ongoing election interference case, which the court sent back down to a lower court with the aforementioned prosecution considerations.

According to Chief Justice John Roberts, a president has immunity from prosecution for any actions deemed official. The court defined an official action as anything a president does when carrying out presidential responsibilities, as described in the United States Constitution. Roberts elaborated on the decision by claiming the Constitution encourages the president and other members of the Executive Branch to act in an “independent” and “energetic” manner. Roberts concluded his explanation by stating that a president cannot be prosecuted for exercising powers granted under the Constitution, regardless of his political ideology or any policies signed into law during his time in office.

Although five justices agreed with Roberts’s interpretation of presidential immunity under the United States Constitution, three justices disagreed and criticized the majority in a dissenting opinion. According to Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Elena Kagan, a president shouldn’t have immunity from prosecution as it contradicts the Constitution and protects him from prosecution, unlike other American citizens. The dissent also accused Trump of violating the law by attempting election interference and called the former president’s actions “treasonous.”

Although the Supreme Court ruled that a president has significant protection from prosecution, the justices didn’t weigh in on Trump’s ongoing election interference case. The election interference case stems from Trump’s alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election and has faced numerous delays due to the former president’s various attempts at an appeal. While a lower court must determine if Trump’s actions following the 2020 election fulfilled the court’s definition of “official,” many legal experts believe the former president could obtain an acquittal due to the Supreme Court ruling.

Despite the surge of online criticism following the court decision, Justice Samuel Alito claims the court considered the possible ramifications of denying a president immunity. Alito says denying immunity would allow a president to target his predecessor for illegitimate reasons. Alito cites other countries as evidence of the court’s concern and claims that the Supreme Court wants to uphold the integrity of the United States by preventing politicians from weaponizing the criminal justice system.

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