July 3, 2024

Connecticut Officials Sound Alarms Over Supreme Court Ruling Granting Trump Immunity

State officials in Connecticut reacted with alarm to a Monday ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, granting former President Donald Trump significant immunity from criminal prosecution as a result of actions made in an official capacity.

The high court’s conservative majority ruled 6 – 3 to overturn a lower court ruling, which had rejected Trump’s efforts to claim immunity in a criminal case related to his attempts to change the outcome of the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden.

The court’s six conservative justices — including three appointed by Trump — supported granting Trump “absolute” immunity from prosecution for actions taken within the constitutional authority of the president.

State Sen. Gary Winfield, co-chair of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, released a statement, calling the ruling “dangerous.”

“The fact that this egregious decision comes during a week when our nation celebrates its independence from a monarchy is particularly offensive,” Winfield, D-New Haven, said. “Our democracy is in trouble. That’s not election-time rhetoric. It’s a fact that becomes more clear with every decision handed down by this radical court. This latest ruling should serve as a clarion call for everyone who believes in accountability. Vote as if this nation is in danger. Because it is.”

In a separate release, Attorney General William Tong said the court’s ruling served to narrow a claim by Trump, who had argued he was immune from all prosecution. Although the decision still leaves Trump open to prosecution for crimes committed in his personal capacity, Tong said the sweeping ruling would have consequences.

“But the Court gave Trump – and all future presidents – far too much unrestrained power for so-called official acts,” Tong said. “Even the president – especially the president – must be accountable for abusing the office’s enormous power. Like the dissent, and like well-meaning people across this country, I am concerned today for our democracy – because Donald Trump poses an unprecedented threat to the rule of law, and because the Supreme Court has failed to restrain him.”

Senate President Martin Looney and Majority Leader Bob Duff issued a joint statement Monday, calling the ruling “one of the most lethal salvos ever fired against the rule of law” in the nation’s history.

“Donald Trump openly attacks the principles of American democracy and our Supreme Court effectively endorses this behavior through its refusal to hold him accountable,” Looney and Duff said. “The MAGA justices on the Supreme Court, two of which should have recused themselves, have opened the door to our President serving as the equivalent of a medieval king ruling by ‘divine right’ and enjoying ‘sovereign immunity,’ repudiating our democratic, anti-monarchical traditions dating back to the implementation of our Constitution and the inauguration of our new government in 1789.”

The court’s liberal justices argued a similar point in a dissent written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. As a result of the majority’s ruling, Sotomayor wrote, “the President is now a king above the law.”

“Never in the history of our Republic has a President had reason to believe that he would be immune from criminal prosecution if he used the trappings of his office to violate the criminal law,” Sotomayor wrote. “Moving forward, however, all former Presidents will be cloaked in such immunity. If the occupant of that office misuses official power for personal gain, the criminal law that the rest of us must abide will not provide a backstop. With fear for our democracy, I dissent.”

Posted by Hugh McQuaid