‘There are no kings in America’: Biden criticizes US Supreme Court ruling granting Trump immunity

The US Supreme Court’s decision on Monday granting the presumption of criminal immunity President Joe Biden said Monday night at the White House that the president’s official actions have fundamentally changed American democracy.

Speaking for less than five minutes, Biden said: 6-3 decision goes against the spirit of the country’s founding — celebrated across the country this week, on July 4 — that no one is above the law.

“This nation was founded on the principle that there are no kings in America,” Biden said. “Every one of us is equal under the law. No one — no one — is above the law, not even the president of the United States.”

The immunity decision, made by Chief Justice John Roberts on behalf of the court’s conservative majority, undermined that principle, Biden said.

Biden added that the decision would almost certainly mean a jury will not decide the criminal case accusing former President Donald Trump of conspiring to illegally overturn his 2020 election loss before November’s election, which Biden called “a disservice to the American people.”

Roberts’ Opinion

The ruling tasked a federal trial court with determining which actions by then-President Trump to overturn the 2020 presidential election were conducted as “official” acts of the president. Those actions are subject to a “presumption of immunity,” Roberts wrote.

The ruling, Roberts said, protects the power of an office that is itself part of the government and is consistent with the framers’ view that the president has broad powers and duties.

“Recognizing this reality — and ensuring that the President can exercise those powers by force, as the framers intended — does not place him above the law,” Roberts wrote. “It preserves the basic structure of the Constitution.”

Biden, however, called the decision a “dangerous precedent” that would give presidents nearly unlimited power.

“The president’s power will no longer be limited by law, even by the Supreme Court of the United States,” he said. “The only limitations will be imposed by the president himself.”

Biden cited the example of George Washington, who he said constrained presidential power, and promised he would continue to “respect the limits of presidential power.”

But he added that the ruling allowed future presidents, likely including Trump, to ignore the law.

January 6th Attack

Biden has said Trump was responsible for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that disrupted the certification of Biden’s defeat by Trump in the 2020 election. Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the election that ended with the Jan. 6 attack are the subject of a federal indictment that the former president has challenged, citing presidential immunity.

“Four years ago, my predecessor sent a violent mob to the U.S. Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power,” Biden said. “We all saw it with our own eyes. We saw what happened that day… I think it’s fair to say it’s one of the darkest days in American history. Now, the man who sent that mob to the U.S. Capitol could face a felony conviction.”

Biden, whose re-election campaign was still teetering on the brink of collapse on Monday performance in the debate against Trump last week even Democrats describe him as indigenturged voters to “do what the court should have been willing to do but wouldn’t” and reject Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, in a landslide.

The president backed Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s powerful dissent in the case, quoting her statement that the majority opinion stokes “concerns about our democracy” and urging voters to dissent as well.

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