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June 15, 2024. Donald Trump speaking with attendees at The People's Convention at Huntington Place in Detroit, Michigan.

Picture by: Gage Skidmore | Flickr

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Trump versus the United States: the US fight against Trump stays alive amid immunity decision

17 year-old Alia Saphier on the implications of absolute immunity being granted to the president

A famous story proclaimed throughout the United States, even today, is the one of Washington rejecting the establishment of a monarchy after the Revolutionary War.

His acclaim was far and wide as Washington was the bringer of freedom in his position of commander and chief of the military. Any power being offered was his for the taking and yet, he quickly rejected the position of king of the United States of America and kept to the ideals he fought for: having a self-governing nation, a constitutional republic.

So, instead of taking supreme power, Washington shared the control of the new nation with the two other branches of government, the Legislative and Judicial branches.

And now, around the same time as The United States’ 248th birthday, the constitutional government we as Americans were once so protective of is shifting towards what some may call a monarchy.

President Biden reacted to the decision by reinforcing the importance of holding each citizen to the law, including the president: “there are no kings in America… Each of us is equal before the law.”

On July 1, 2024, the United States Supreme Court released a decision on the Trump vs. United States case that the president has ‘absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within his conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority’.

In other words, for any act performed during their term, the president (or their lawyers) can argue it is official, for which they have immunity from prosecution and further, the law. The Supreme Court continues, ‘this immunity must be absolute’.

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, “In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law”. For a country that has always proclaimed the importance of checks and balances, this decision is the first move that empowers one branch of government so that they can surpass the others, with the president seemingly holding a place above the law, which is formed by being passed by both houses of Congress, thereby ignoring the check that Congress places on the Executive Branch.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor also wrote in her dissent, “Ironic isn’t it? The man in charge of enforcing laws can now just break them.”



Because the law is derived from English common law, all judicial decisions are applied retroactively, meaning that the decisions reached will apply to any event that occurred prior to the decision. Through this, the decision of Trump vs. United States can and will be applied to Trump’s current legal battles across the nation.

There is still one clear outstanding issue to resolve. First, Trump’s election interference case will still return to the U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who will preside over the case and reach a decision in light of this new Supreme Court decision.

This case will decide whether or not Trump’s actions in the 2020 election were legal as an incumbent nominee and at-the-time president. Prior to the Decision of Trump vs. United States, Judge Chutkan had said that she would provide both sides an opportunity to reform their arguments.

As a result of the decision, it is unlikely that the trial of Trump’s election interference will occur prior to the election, or even in the remainder of this year at all.

On July 2, Trump’s sentencing in the hush money case was postponed until September 18, instead of the original sentencing date of July 11. This pushes the sentencing closer to the election with less than two months between the final trial decision and the election instead of the original five month separation.

This difference in time could result in many deciding who their vote lies with before the sentencing, or may even see a potential further delay of the case until after November 5.

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  • June 21, 2024, Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court Building

    Picture by: ajay_suresh | Flickr

  • In a way, this ruling could have been predicted. The current Supreme Court consists of a strong majority, or six justices, of Conservative values, whereas there are only three Democratic justices. Three of the Conservative justices currently on the Supreme Court were elected by former-President Donald Trump.

    This divide in the court was visible when the decision was released, with every Conservative justice supporting the decision and every Democratic justice dissenting.

    Such a separation within the court will only continue to deepen if Trump were to be elected, as multiple of the Conservative judges and possibly even some of the Liberal justices are reaching the age where they might step down or die, since the term for Supreme Court justices is life.

    If that were to happen under Donald Trump, he would be able to appoint younger justices and thus secure the Conservative majority for years to come.

    So what now?

    There is still a chance that Trump will be convicted. The next step for the trial is proving that his actions were not ‘official’ or rebutting Trump’s newly-received presumptive immunity.

    Former US president Donald Trump appears in court on 34 felony charges

    One of such actions under contention currently is Trump’s pressuring of previous VP Mike Pence.While Trump has presumptive immunity, meaning that by standard he is immune, it is still possible for prosecutors to prove Trump’s guilt in regard to this issue, as well as the total amount of 34 criminal counts.

    Another action that will span months, but is nevertheless necessary, is the review of Trump’s actions taken during the election last year.If the special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment of Trump demonstrated that the actions he took were not ‘official’ the former president can still be convicted.

    In the meantime, the American public continues to face the upcoming election season with two candidates, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and must choose what could be referred to as the ‘lesser of two evils’.

    Since the Court’s decision was publicised, Biden said “the American people will have to render a judgment about Donald Trump’s behavior,” as reported by AP News. This sentiment continues to be true as, until there is a verdict reached, it will be up to the voters to decide whether Trump’s illegal actions make him unfit to lead.

    In the long term, Trump, if elected, or any other president following him could pose a serious threat in terms of improper use of executive powers as the presidency is now ‘largely unchecked’ a constitutional law expert reported to ABC news.

    In her dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor gave a list of the possible actions the President could theoretically take and not face criminal charges under the Trump vs. United States: “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.”

    The president most famous for his illegal actions would most likely be former-President Richard Nixon in regards to the Watergate scandal, a break-in of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters that Nixon’s administration was heavily involved with and the impediment of the administration of the subsequent investigation of the break-in.

    After resigning from his presidency, Nixon received the presidential pardon from his VP and successor Gerald Ford. However, many news outlets, including ABC News, have reported that in following the Trump vs. United States decision, the presidential pardon would have been unnecessary, or even excessive, since Nixon was president at the time he broke the law and would thus be immune to criminalization.

    The absolute immunity provided to the president by this decision allows the exploitation of the grey area of what is considered ‘official’ action and what is unofficial, as former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general and professor of constitutional law Harry Litman told ABC news.

    Litman continued to explain that, while this decision does protect the president’s actions, it does not directly alter the scope of their executive powers; meaning that, while the commander in chief may not be able to expand the physical power directed to them by the Constitution, they would still be protected against any form of criminalization for actions during their time in office, where they could easily exploit their presidential power and take ‘official’ actions for personal gain.

    Written by:


    Alia Saphier


    New Jersey, United States

    Alia Lael Brühl Saphier was born in 2006 and currently studies in Englewood, New Jersey.  She joined Harbingers’ Magazine in 2023 as a contributor and social media manager. In 2024, she became the publisher.

    Alia attends the Manhattan School of Music precollege for classical voice and is an editor for her school’s foreign language magazine. In her free time, she plays the violin, guitar, and ukulele. Her wider interests also include songwriting, reading, traveling, acting, and creative writing.

    Alia speaks English, German, and Spanish.

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