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Joe Biden Weighs In On Supreme Court Rulings

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


President Joe Biden delivered remarks from the White House on Monday night, addressing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant former President Donald Trump absolute immunity from prosecution for “official acts” during his presidency.

Speaking from the executive mansion’s red-carpeted Cross Hall, Biden likened the high court’s ruling to giving Trump “the keys to a dictatorship.”

“This nation was founded on the principle that there are no kings in America,” he said. “Each of us is equal before the law. No one, no one is above the law – not even the president of the United States. But today’s Supreme Court decision on presidential immunity, that fundamentally changed. For all, for all practical purposes, today’s decision almost certainly means that there are virtually no limits on what a president can do.”

“This decision today has continued the court’s attack in recent years on a wide range of long-established legal principles in our nation, from gutting voting rights and civil rights to taking away a woman’s right to choose, to today’s decision that undermines the rule of law of this nation,” he added.

Critics pointed out that Biden, who only spoke for roughly 4 minutes with a teleprompter, looked orange after appearing pale white during last week’s debate.

The Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated ruling Monday on Trump’s claims of “immunity” from prosecution as the fate of at least two federal cases filed against him hung in the balance.

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The justices ruled 6-3 that a former president has absolute immunity for his core constitutional powers.

The Supreme Court has ruled that Trump cannot be prosecuted for actions he took as president if those actions were part of his official duties.

However, he can be prosecuted for things he did that were not part of his job as president. The lower courts must carefully examine each action to determine whether it is official or not.

The justices heard oral arguments in the case in late April. The question before the justices revolved around whether Trump can face criminal charges for allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 election results.

The court’s decision impacts Trump’s trial in Washington, D.C., presided over by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, which was initially set for March 4 but is currently on hold, as well as the progress of his trials in Florida and Georgia, the SCOTUS blog noted.

Last summer, Trump was indicted on four counts stemming from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the January 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. Capitol. Trump, the indictment claims, created “widespread mistrust … through pervasive and destabilizing lies about election fraud” and then was engaged in three criminal conspiracies to target “a bedrock function of the United States federal government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting, and certifying the results of the presidential election.”

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Following Chutkan’s denial of Trump’s request to dismiss the charges against him in December, Special Counsel Jack Smith took the matter to the Supreme Court, seeking their opinion on Trump’s claim to immunity without waiting for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to rule on Trump’s appeal.

However, the justices denied Smith’s request on December 22, the SCOTUS Blog noted, adding a summary of Trump’s legal arguments:

In his brief at the Supreme Court on the merits, Trump tells the justices that allowing the charges against him to go forward would pose “a mortal threat to the Presidency’s independence.” “The President cannot function,” Trump contends, “and the Presidency itself cannot retain its vital independence, if the President faces criminal prosecution for official acts once he leaves office,” because the threat of prosecution will hang over the president’s decision-making process.

Trump cites a law review article by then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who before becoming a judge worked in the George W. Bush White House, arguing that “a President who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as President.“ The same is true, Trump continues, “if that criminal investigation is waiting in the wings until he leaves office.”

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Trump maintains that a president can never be prosecuted for his official acts. He points first to a “long history” of an absence of prosecutions, notwithstanding what he characterizes as “ample motive and opportunity”—everything from the appointment by John Quincy Adams of Henry Clay as secretary of state “after Clay delivered the 1824 election to him in the House” to President Joe Biden’s “mismanagement of the southern border.”

Trump argued that a president cannot be prosecuted for official acts, citing a historical absence of prosecutions despite perceived motives and opportunities. He pointed to instances like John Quincy Adams appointing Henry Clay as secretary of state after Clay’s role in delivering the 1824 election to Adams, as well as President Biden’s handling of the southern border, as examples.

Trump contended that immunity from criminal prosecution stems from both the Constitution and the principle of separation of powers. He highlighted the executive vesting clause, which grants the president “executive power,” asserting that courts cannot interfere with this authority due to the separation of powers principle.

Trump also leaned on another provision of the Constitution, referred to as the impeachment judgment clause. This clause stipulates that someone who is impeached and convicted can still be indicted, tried, and punished “according to law.”

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