On last day of term, Supreme Court decision favors Trump in immunity case

Today the Supreme Court ruled that former President Donald Trump is immune from criminal prosecution in regards to any actions conducted in his official capacity as president. But the ruling clarified he did not have protection for “unofficial” acts related to his personal conduct. The 6-3 decision fell along ideological lines, and it’s unclear exactly how the ruling will impact efforts to hold Trump legally accountable for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

“A former president is entitled to absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within his ‘conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority,’” the ruling read. “There is no immunity for unofficial acts.”

The embattled former president celebrated the outcome, ecstatically posting on social media and sending out elated messages to his followers. Meanwhile, his opponent maintained that the court’s announcement had little bearing on Trump’s responsibility for Jan. 6. 

"Today's ruling doesn't change the facts, so let's be very clear about what happened on January 6: Donald Trump snapped after he lost the 2020 election and encouraged a mob to overthrow the results of a free and fair election,” the campaign said in a statement

Such sentiments were not isolated, as the dissenting opinion sided with Biden on the matter. "Relying on little more than its own misguided wisdom about the need for bold and unhesitating action by the president, the court gives former President Trump all the immunity he asked for and more," Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in response to the conservative majority’s decision.

The ruling comes after a multitude of rulings that will undermine the ability for the federal government to enforce the law. Last week saw the court side with major corporations in a case that will greatly restrict regulation enforcement by key agencies. In SEC v. Jarkesy, the Court's 6-3 decision will hamper the Security Exchange Commission's ability to penalize corporations with fees when they violate a regulatory statute.

These sorts of outcomes were exactly what far-right judicial activists were hoping for when they stacked the court with ideologues. 

“Some of the organizations that supported the weakening of the SEC have direct ties to the powerful friends and benefactors of the Court,” the watchdog group Revolving Door Project explained

“The very same people who are flying Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito to vacation destinations on private jets are closely tied to organizations that are urging the Court through amicus briefs to rule in a manner favorable to corporate wrongdoers.”

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Jamie Larson