Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Listen Live: Supreme Court Hears Trump's Presidential Immunity Appeal

The Supreme Court will hear oral argument today over former President Donald Trump’s claim that he’s immune from criminal prosecution for official acts he undertook while in office.

Listen live here (due to start at 1000ET):

Jonathan Turley is live-blogging the hearing on X:

We are off and running on the oral arguments on immunity with John Sauer, former Scalia clerk, arguing for the former president.

...Chief Justice Roberts asked the most poignant question. What if a president appointed an ambassador (a clearly official act) but does so for a bribe? Sauer offered a nuanced point that the bribe itself would not be an official act...

...Justice Sotomayor just hit Sauer and said that Trump was only acting for personal gain and not in the interests or in a function of his government. She is making the slippery slope argument that such immunity would protect the assassination of a president...

...Justice Jackson said that "every president from the beginning of time" understood that they could be prosecuted but they "have continued to function and do their job."...

...Sauer agrees that a president can be prosecuted for private conduct. His point is only that the motivations of official conduct should not be the inquiry of the court. He is doing a good job in maintaining a more nuanced position before the Court...

As The Epoch Times' Sam Dorman reports, besides altering longstanding precedent, the decision could bear heavily on, and delay the criminal prosecutions President Trump is facing before the election.

An appeals court in Washington rejected his attempt to claim immunity in the Justice Department’s prosecution of his activity on Jan. 6 and in response to the 2020 presidential election.

The Supreme Court is set to review that decision and potentially establish a broader definition of presidential immunity.

The Supreme Court here has three main options:

  • to uphold the appeal court’s rejection of President Trump’s immunity claims,

  • to accept his claims,

  • or remand the matter back to U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan with a refined test on what presidential acts are immune from prosecution.

  • Nixon v. Fitzgerald, a Supreme Court case from 1973, established that presidents enjoy absolute immunity from civil liability for actions that fell within the “outer perimeter” of their official duties.

    Experts speculated to The Epoch Times that the justices could extend that same framework to criminal liability.

    This is the second major oral argument the justices are hearing about attempts to punish President Trump for his conduct following the 2020 presidential election.

    They heard oral argument in February over Colorado’s attempt to disqualify him from the state’s ballot, and issued a unanimous judgment in opposition.

    A week before President Trump’s appeal is reaching the Supreme Court, the justices also heard oral argument over how the DOJ applied a financial reform law to Jan. 6 defendants. That same law forms part of DOJ’s indictment against President Trump.

    Separation of Powers is a major issue that will likely loom large in both the oral argument and eventual opinion.

    President Trump has argued that judicial review of his official acts would be inappropriate, while Special Counsel Jack Smith said granting criminal immunity would upset the balance of power and allow presidents to get away with egregious wrongdoing.

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