Republicans hail Trump ruling as Democrats attack ‘disgraceful decision’ | US politics

While Republicans applauded the supreme court’s decision to grant Donald Trump immunity for official acts undertaken as president, Democratic leaders expressed outrage over a ruling that legal experts warn could undermine the foundations of US democracy.

The court’s six conservative justices ruled that presidents have “absolute immunity” for official acts but no immunity from unofficial acts. The distinction could hamper the federal case against Trump over his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and makes it even less likely that the case will go to trial before election day in November.

Trump celebrated the ruling as a “big win for our constitution and democracy” – a view echoed by the Republican House speaker, Mike Johnson.

“Today’s ruling by the court is a victory for former President Trump and all future presidents, and another defeat for President Biden’s weaponized Department of Justice and Jack Smith,” Johnson said.

“As President Trump has repeatedly said, the American people, not President Biden’s bureaucrats, will decide the November 5 election.”

Jim Jordan, the Republican chair of the House judiciary committee, weighed in as well. “Hyper-partisan prosecutors like Jack Smith cannot weaponize the rule of law to go after the administration’s chief political rival, and we hope that the left will stop its attacks on President Trump and uphold democratic norms,” Jordan said.

Democrats, meanwhile, condemned the decision as a disgrace, describing it as an attack on the separation of powers and a black mark on the supreme court’s reputation.

“This is a sad day for America and a sad day for our democracy,” said Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader.

“This disgraceful decision by the Maga supreme court – which is comprised of three justices appointed by Mr Trump himself – enables the former president to weaken our democracy by breaking the law. This decision undermines the credibility of the supreme court, and suggests that political influence trumps all in our courts today.”

Hakeem Jeffries, the House Democratic leader, said the ruling “sets a dangerous precedent for the future of our nation”, adding: “The Framers of the constitution envisioned a democracy governed by the rule of law and the consent of the American people. They did not intend for our nation to be ruled by a king or monarch who could act with absolute impunity.”

Legal experts voiced similar concerns about the ruling’s implications, highlighting liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor’s warning that the decision could enable a future president to claim immunity for blatantly illegal acts such as ordering the assassination of a political rival or organizing a military coup to stay in power.

“Scotus’s immunity decision will in time rank as among the court’s worst decisions in its many year history,” Claire Finkelstein, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said. “Any US president can now violate the law to remain in power as long as he cloaks it in the trappings of his office.”

Joyce Alene, a law professor at the University of Alabama, concluded: “It’s up to American voters. We held Trump accountable at the polls in 2020 [and] must do it again in 2024. Because the supreme court won’t.”

Joe Biden’s campaign team agreed that the ruling only heightened the stakes of the presidential race, and they urged voters to reject Trump in November to avoid a repeat of the violence seen on 6 January 2021.

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On a Biden campaign press call, the congresswoman Jasmine Crockett, a Texas Democrat, said the ruling underscored how Trump’s re-election would endanger Americans’ fundamental freedoms.

“We’re talking about reproductive freedom, freedom to access the ballot box, freedom to love who you want ,freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to live the life you want to live,” Crockett said. “We can’t underestimate Donald Trump’s threat or his dark vision for our future.”

Harry Dunn, a former US Capitol police officer who working during the January 6 insurrection, told reporters that the ruling amplified Trump’s status as “the single greatest threat to our democracy”.

“We don’t need nine supreme court justices to tell me that Donald Trump was responsible for January 6,” Dunn said. “I was there. Those people that attacked us, they attacked us in his name on his orders.”

Congressman Dan Goldman, a Democrat from New York who previously served as lead majority counsel in Trump’s first impeachment inquiry, went even further by framing Trump’s re-election as “far and away the biggest threat since the civil war”.

Goldman said: “If Joe Biden is not elected in November, we will not have a democracy that we have known for 250 years.”

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