‘A Dark Day for Democracy’: American Oversight Statement on Supreme Court Presidential Immunity Decision

American Oversight issued the following statement following the Supreme Court’s decision partially endorsing former President Trump’s claim of immunity from criminal prosecution.

Statement from American Oversight Interim Executive Director Chioma Chukwu:

“Today is a dark day for American democracy. The Supreme Court’s ruling came after months of delay, revealing the greatest beneficiary of our two-tiered system of justice: Donald J. Trump. By sending this case back to the lower courts for further proceedings just months before the election, making it unlikely that he will face trial by November, the Court has effectively rewarded the former president with de facto immunity for his role in attempting to subvert the results of the 2020 election.  

“Our democracy depends on an informed electorate. Today’s decision deprives the public of critical information by preventing this case from immediately proceeding to trial, instead requiring the lower court to first determine which of Trump’s egregious actions fall within the parameters set forth by the Supreme Court. Voters deserve to have the benefit of a jury verdict before choosing their next president in November — the Court’s ruling likely made that impossible.” 

In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court’s ruling states that a president is entitled to immunity for official acts, but not for unofficial acts. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, made clear that even the Supreme Court agrees on a core principle — that no one is above the law:

“The president enjoys no immunity for his unofficial acts, and not everything the President does is official. The President is not above the law. But Congress may not criminalize the President’s conduct in carrying out the responsibilities of the Executive Branch under the Constitution.”

The case has been remanded to the lower courts to determine which of Trump’s actions alleged in the indictment are official — entitling him to immunity — and which are unofficial actions for which he can be prosecuted. This remand for additional proceedings, including more potential appeals before any prosecution could proceed, further delays accountability.

In December, American Oversight filed an amicus curiae brief arguing that Trump’s appeal of the trial court’s rejection of his immunity claims was premature. The argument was carefully considered and addressed by the D.C. Circuit panel during a January hearing.