SCOTUS Considers Trump Immunity in Momentous Case

SCOTUS Considers Trump Immunity in Momentous Case

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
April 28, 2024

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments this Thursday on whether former US President Donald Trump, and all presidents, enjoy criminal immunity. 

From the justices’ questions it can be inferred the court’s conservative majority would favor granting presidents criminal immunity. 

However, the justices seemed open to the prospect of President Trump’s trial in Washington, D.C., ensuing if the charges against him are considered to target his private, rather than official, conduct.

President Trump responded to the oral argument by alleging the oral argument clarified the need for the court to rule in his favor. 

Trump claimed it was “made clear” that a president “has to have immunity.”

"So let’s see how that turns out," Trump continued. "But again, I say presidential immunity is very powerful. Presidential immunity is imperative, or you practically won’t have a country anymore." 

According to Trump, criminal immunity is essential if the presidency is to function as America’s founding fathers intended it to. 

Trump’s lawyers quoted Benjamin Franklin’s words at the constitutional convention during oral argument.

They allege Franklin said “history provides one example only of a chief magistrate who is subject to public justice, criminal prosecution. And everybody cried out against that as a violation.”

Presidents, thanks to the court’s 1982 ruling in Nixon v. Fitzgerald, enjoy full immunity from civil lawsuits filed against them for actions committed while in office. 

However, whether presidents possess criminal immunity is a question the court has never answered given no president prior to Trump had ever been criminally charged. 

Trump was indicted on criminal charges in August 2023 arising from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riots. 

Additionally, Trump faces three other criminal cases and is appealing a civil case. 

In the civil case, Trump was ordered to pay half-a-billion to claimants against him, of which Trump has paid over $100 million while appealing the case. 


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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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