Republicans tout Supreme Court immunity ruling as victory in ‘weaponization’ fight

Republicans are hailing the Supreme Court’s ruling that presidents have immunity from prosecution for official acts as a major victory over government “weaponization” as the decision deals a blow to special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of former President Trump over his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

“Today’s ruling by the Court is a victory for former President Trump and all future presidents, and another defeat for President Biden’s weaponized Department of Justice and Jack Smith,” Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said in a statement, adding that it is “based on the obviously unique power and position of the presidency, and comports with the Constitution and common sense.”

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) similarly said the “weaponization” of the Justice Department’s case against Trump “is outrageous, unconstitutional, and must cease.”

“While it’s becoming increasingly clear Democrats believe their only path to victory in November is through prosecuting their political opponent, today’s decision makes it clear this is not allowed in our constitutional system,” Scalise said in a statement.

Claims of a government “weaponized” against Biden’s political opponents have become core to the Republican party as Trump has faced numerous lawsuits, criminal charges, convictions, and investigations since he rose to power. Combined, it has fueled GOP defenses of the former president.

Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), the chair of the Senate GOP and the highest-ranking Republican to comment on the decision as of Monday afternoon, called the opinion “another victory for democracy and the rule of law against Democrat lawlessness,” accusing Democrats and Biden of “weaponizing the justice system” against Trump.

There is no evidence that Biden directed any prosecution of Trump. His campaign, though, said on Monday that the ruling has “amplified” the president’s arguments about the threat Trump poses.

The Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision on Monday ruled that presidents have immunity from prosecution for official acts. It sent the case back to the D.C. District Court, where proceedings had been paused to weigh Trump’s immunity claims.

The ruling gives space, however, for areas of the prosecution to move forward, such as Trump’s pressure campaign on former Vice President Mike Pence leading up to Jan. 6, to move forward in court.

Chief Justice John Roberts directed the lower court to assess “whether a prosecution involving Trump’s alleged attempts to influence the Vice President’s oversight of the certification proceeding in his capacity as President of the Senate would pose any dangers of intrusion on the authority and functions of the Executive Branch.”

Dissenting justices and Democrats expressed alarm about the implications of the decision, and questioned how far that immunity could reach.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her dissent suggested that the ruling meant a president could order the assassination of his political rivals.

“Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune,” she wrote. “Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) took direct aim at that dissent.

“The Supreme Court’s dissent in this case is foolish in every way, particularly Justice Sotomayor and Justice Jackson’s argument that this decision allows a president to assassinate their opponent. The liberal members of the Court and the Left have lost their minds when it comes to President Trump,” Graham wrote on the social platform X.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and its select subcommittee on government weaponization, called on the ideological left to “stop its attacks on President Trump and uphold democratic norms” while hailing the decision — adopting phrasing about democratic norms that Democrats have often used to express alarm about Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 riot that defied the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power.

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