US Supreme Court: Presidents Have Immunity for 'Official Acts'

03:57 July 1, 2024

US Supreme Court: Presidents Have Immunity for 'Official Acts'

The United States Supreme Court on Monday ruled that American presidents have "immunity" from prosecution over what the ruling calls "official acts."

The ruling recognizes - for the first time ever - any form of presidential immunity from prosecution.

The decision was six to three. The ruling also declared that presidents do not have such immunity for “unofficial acts.”

The decision is critical to a criminal case against former President Donald Trump on charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

The Supreme Court said the first step is “to distinguish his official from unofficial actions.” The ruling directs a lower court to reexamine whether the charges are related to official or unofficial presidential actions.

In a social media post, Trump cheered the ruling. It read: "BIG WIN FOR OUR CONSTITUTION AND DEMOCRACY. PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!"

Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office which oversees the case against Trump did not provide comment on the ruling.

The case against Trump

Smith’s office accuses Trump of four crimes: plotting to defraud the government, blocking an official meeting of Congress and plotting to do so, and threatening people’s right to vote.

The charging document called an indictment, said the former president tried to get Justice Department officials to support his claims that widespread fraud had kept him from winning reelection. It said that Trump and others pressured state lawmakers to provide false results through false electors. It said Trump pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to block or delay certification of Joe Biden’s victory as Congress considered the final vote count at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

In the months following the 2020 election, Trump lost several court cases in which he claimed he was cheated out of reelection to a second four-year term.

Before the Supreme Court, Trump claimed presidential, or executive, immunity for his actions. He said he acted to protect the integrity of the election. Trump’s lawyers argued that his actions sat “at the heart of” Trump’s “official responsibilities as president.”

The defense said a president would be immune even if they used military forces to murder a political opponent.

The Supreme Court decision makes it unlikely that the case against Trump will be tried before the 2024 election. And Trump and Biden will likely face each other again when America votes on November 5.

I'm Caty Weaver.

Google Play VOA Learning English - Digdok