AFT Releases Statement on Supreme Court Immunity Ruling 

Supreme Court building

This Monday, at the end of its current term, the Supreme Court of the United States released a bombshell ruling that dramatically expanded the legal immunity afforded to former presidents. The 6-3 majority ruling in the case Trump v. United States is a huge win for former President Donald Trump who is facing several felony indictments from his time in office, many of which stem from his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

The court’s majority opinion found that former presidents have broad immunity for their official actions taken as the president of the United States. While this ruling does not dismiss Trump’s indictment for his role in attempting to steal the 2020 election, it does set a legal precedent that will make it difficult for prosecutors when this case is argued before a lower court.  

In response to the ruling, Trump’s legal team asked the judge in a separate case, dealing with his alleged mishandling of classified documents at his Florida resort, to delay the trial and reconsider a motion to dismiss the case in light of this Supreme Court decision. His legal team argues that Trump’s alleged refusal to return hundreds of documents – which contained classified information regarding U.S. nuclear capabilities, defense strategies, and more – should be considered an “official action,” thus making the Trump immune from prosecution under this new precedent.

This ruling also delays the timeline of that trial, pushing it until after the election. If Trump wins in November, he could simply instruct his attorney general to dismiss the case or possibly even pardon himself. 

In her dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor – joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson – stated:  

“Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune. Even if these nightmare scenarios never play out, and I pray they never do, the damage has been done. The relationship between the president and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably.” 

In response to this dangerous expansion, AFT President Randi Weingarten also released a short statement slamming the majority opinion: 

“For the first time, a president can engage in otherwise illegal acts without any accountability, and for the first time, a president is now above the law. The founders spoke repeatedly of the need to protect the country against demagogues and crafted a constitution to defend against them. Today, the Supreme Court tried to vitiate their intent and allowed the former president’s thirst for power to trump the Constitution.” 

Read President Weingarten’s full statement on the AFT website.