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Alabama politicians respond to SCOTUS ruling on presidential immunity

The Supreme Court’s ruling that presidents cannot be prosecuted for any official acts received seemingly unanimous support from Alabama Republicans.

Former President Donald Trump is found guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree in connection with the Stormy Daniels hush money trial case. GDA via AP Images
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Setting the tone for most of the responses from Alabama politicians, a tweet from the Alabama Republican Party characterized the Supreme Court’s ruling on Trump v. United States as a “SCOTUS WIN FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP!!”

In the recent 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court found that a president enjoys “absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within his conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority.” Additionally, presidents now have “presumptive immunity” for all official acts.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that “the President is not above the law,” but Congress cannot make carrying out the president’s official actions illegal. As such the Supreme Court found Trump was absolutely immune from charges for pressuring the Justice Department to help overturn the election and presumptively immune from charges for pressuring Mike Pence to do the same. The lower courts were tasked with determining whether the presumptive immunity applied.

However, Trump could also still theoretically be found liable for his communications to people outside of the executive branch, as these communications were not clearly official acts. Those charges were remanded to the lower courts.

The three liberal justices (Ketanji Brown Jackson, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan) each dissented, with both Sotomayor and Jackson penning separate dissents.

Sotomayor concisely explained the effect of the majority’s opinion on presidential power: “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.”

Elected Republicans in Alabama were quick to praise the decision though, with most framing it as a needed response to the supposed political prosecution of Donald Trump by the Biden administration.

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Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville called the ruling “a crushing blow to Joe Biden’s 4-year witch hunt against President Trump.”

Fellow Alabama Senator Katie Britt said the decision “helps to ensure that the leader of the free world can effectively execute the duties of their office without fear of retribution from political prosecutions.”

Congressman Jerry Carl said “the Supreme Court has simply upheld the Constitution by reaffirming that presidents have immunity for their official acts” and also contrasted the ruling with the “Left’s weaponization of our justice system.”

Congressmen Barry Moore and Gary Palmer concurred with the sentiments of their fellow Republicans. Moore called the ruling a “great victory over Biden’s weaponized government” and Palmer stated that it “confirms what we knew all along, that Presidential speech does not equal criminal action.”

However, Alabama’s sole Democratic member of Congress, Terri Sewell, called the ruling “disturbing and anti-democratic.”

“At a time when our democracy is already facing serious challenges, this ruling gives a green light to future presidents to abuse their power,” she argued.

Responding to the decision in a televised address, President Biden put it simply by saying that “there are no kings in America.” Calling it a “dangerous precedent,” Biden promised not to make use of his newfound immunity and warned of what Trump might now be able to do in a second term.

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Chance Phillips is a reporting intern at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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