Sotomayor Voices ‘Fear For Our Democracy’ In Trump Dissent

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Monday delivered the kind of blistering dissent she’s become known for, after the court’s conservative majority ruled that former President Donald Trump has full immunity for “official acts” that he took while in office.

The liberal justice said that her conservative colleagues on the high court ― Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and Chief Justice John Roberts ― have a “single-minded fixation” on the presidential need “for boldness and dispatch” that ignores the “countervailing need for accountability and restraint.” Trump appointed Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett to the court.

The court’s ruling “reshapes the institution of the Presidency” and “makes a mockery of the principle… that no man is above the law,” Sotomayor wrote, backed up by fellow liberal Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Elena Kagan.

Because of the ruling, Sotomayor wrote, Trump now has “all the immunity he asked for and more,” despite the Constitution not shielding a former president from having to answer for “criminal and treasonous acts.”

“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.”

Jackson issued a separate dissent, in which she, like Sotomayor, did not use the word “respectfully” to register her stance, as is customary.

In response to his liberal colleagues, Roberts, who released the ruling, wrote that the dissents “strike a tone of chilling doom that is wholly disproportionate to what the Court actually does today ― conclude that immunity extends to official discussions between the President and his Attorney General, and then remand to the lower courts to determine ‘in the first instance’ whether and to what extent Trump’s remaining alleged conduct is entitled to immunity.”

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