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IPFS News Link • Justice and Judges

Justice Kavanaugh Warns Of Vicious Cycle Of Malicious Prosecutions That Could...

•, by Tom Ozimek

During Thursday's deliberations at the U.S. Supreme Court on former President Donald Trump's immunity claim, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh warned that a decision in the case has future implications for whether future presidents are shielded from vicious cycles of malicious prosecution that could effectively end the presidency as we know it.

In the course of two-and-a-half hours of oral arguments on April 25, justices on the Supreme Court appeared skeptical of a ruling by a federal appeals court that rejected President Trump's claim that he has absolute immunity from criminal charges based on his official acts as president.

President Trump was indicted by special counsel Jack Smith in August 2023 on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Pleading not guilty, the former president has argued that he should receive absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for acts that fell within the scope of his official duties. The exception to this immunity, he has argued, is if Congress impeaches and convicts him on charges.

A federal appeals court rejected that argument, claiming that presidents must face prosecution for alleged criminal wrongdoing.

The question that is now before the Supreme Court is: "Whether and if so to what extent does a former president enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office?"

During Thursday's deliberations, the justices weighed the claim of absolute immunity that, if adopted, would stop Mr. Smith's prosecution of the former president dead in its tracks.

Several conservative justices suggested they favor imposing limits on the prosecution of former presidents, while highlighting the importance of the case for the future.