SCOTUS rules on Trump Jan. 6 immunity claim, sends case back to lower court

Donald Trump

The Supreme Court has sent former President Donald Trump’s immunity claim back to a lower court.

With a vote of 6 to 3 and Chief Justice John Roberts writing the opinion, the court ruled that presidents have immunity for official acts, but no immunity for unofficial acts, according to SCOTUSblog.

The website says that part of the opinion states that courts have not determined how to separate official and unofficial presidential acts.

Trump v. United States by National Content Desk on Scribd

Trump’s team claimed that former presidents are immune from prosecution for the official acts they take while in office, and argued that the election interference charges he faces should be dismissed, The Associated Press reported.

Minutes after the ruling was issued, Trump posted on his Truth Social platform, “BIG WIN FOR OUR CONSTITUTION AND DEMOCRACY. PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!”

Special counsel Jack Smith said the prosecution of Trump is based on the belief that no one is above the law, Reuters reported.

Trump was charged in August 2023 with conspiring to defraud the United States, corruptly obstructing an official proceeding, and conspiring against the right of Americans to vote, Reuters reported. The former president has pleaded not guilty.

Trump said that without immunity, presidents would not be able to do their jobs while in office, always being afraid of being prosecuted after the end of their terms, CNN reported.

The case, which was one of the last rulings of the term, was argued on April 25. Typically, SCOTUS decisions are handed down by the end of June, ahead of summer recess, CNN reported.

The high court has previously ruled that former presidents can’t be sued in civil cases stemming from their time in office, but had not been in the position to rule on criminal immunity before now.

A lower court ruled in February that Trump was not immune.

The case partially hinges on whether what Trump did after the 2020 election were official duties or private, CNN reported.

The AP pointed out that the timing of the justices’ decision would all but stop the former president from having to stand trial before the November election, even if they had decided he was not immune to prosecution.

The trial had been scheduled to start on March 4 but was delayed by the immunity claims.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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