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‘The President Is Now A King’: Liberal Justices Express ‘Fear For Our Democracy’ In Trump Immunity Dissent

Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote a dissent on Monday sharply dissenting from the Supreme Court's majority opinion in a presidential immunity case brought by former President Donald Trump.

The majority held that the President is entitled to “absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for acts within the scope of his constitutional and exclusive powers” and “constructive immunity for all acts of official conduct.” Objection Written out of “fear for our democracy” and joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Jackson, the opinion “reconfigures the presidency” and states that “the president is now king.”

“The Supreme Court has effectively created a lawless zone around the president, upending a status quo that has existed since the founding of our nation,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “This new official immunity is like a loaded weapon available to any president who wishes to put his own interests, his own political survival, or his own financial gain above the interests of the nation.”

Sotomayor wrote that whenever the president exercises civil power, he is “indemnified from criminal prosecution.”

“Order Navy SEAL Unit 6 to assassinate a political opponent? Immunity. Plot a military coup to stay in power? Immunity,” she wrote. “Accept a bribe in exchange for amnesty? Immunity. Immunity, immunity, immunity.”

Sotomayor argued that the Supreme Court had given Trump “everything he sought and more.” (Related: Supreme Court rules that President Trump is “entitled to immunity” from prosecution for official conduct)

But Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that Trump had “claimed immunity far broader than the limited one we have granted.”

“Because the impeachment clause requires impeachment and Senate conviction to precede any criminal prosecution of a president, Roberts argues that the indictment must be dismissed,” he wrote. “The clause's language offers little support for such absolute immunity.”

While Justice Roberts wrote that Trump “is fully immune from prosecution for conduct related to his discussions with Department of Justice officials,” he said lower courts would have to decide whether many of the other allegations in Trump's indictment constituted official conduct that would qualify for immunity.

Roberts called the dissenters “arbitrary.[ing]”Fear-mongering based on identifying sources and extreme hypotheses”

“The dissent strikes a chillingly pessimistic tone that is completely out of proportion to the Court's actual decisions today. The Court concludes that immunity extends to formal discussions between the President and the Attorney General, and then remands the case to the lower courts to determine, 'first and foremost,' whether and to what extent President Trump's remaining alleged conduct merits immunity,” he wrote.

In his dissent, Jackson wrote that the risks the majority was assuming were “intolerable, unjust and patently contrary to the fundamental norms of the Constitution.”

“Simply put, the Supreme Court has declared that for the first time in history, the most powerful official in the nation may make the law himself (under circumstances that have yet to be fully determined),” she wrote. “As we navigate this uncharted territory, the American people must wisely remain vigilant and consistently fulfill their established roles in our constitutional democracy, serving collectively as the ultimate safeguard against any disruption that may result from this Supreme Court decision.”

Trump was indicted on four felony counts in August 2023 for allegedly trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He sought to have the charges dismissed, arguing that he had absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for his official duties while in office, but both a district court and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that he did not have immunity.

In other decisions this term, liberal justices accused the majority of usurping the executive branch's power. (Related article: “You must have read a different case”: Conservative justice criticizes liberal colleague for flawed dissent)

“At the end of this critical term, this much is clear: the tsunami of agency litigation allowed by this case and by Loper-Bright could devastate the functioning of the federal government,” Jackson said. I have written On Monday, the majority dissented in a separate case. agreement It closed a truck stop in North Dakota and granted the federal agency a longer time frame to challenge its regulations.

The Supreme Court overturned the landmark ruling on Friday. Chevron The case held that when language is ambiguous, courts must defer to agency interpretations of the statute. Chevron's opponents hailed the decision as a victory that would take away a tool that government agencies can use to infringe on the civil liberties of individuals who challenge government regulations, but Kagan said: I have written In her dissent, she argued that it demonstrated the majority's “contempt for restraint and desire to seize power.”

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