Schumer Says Bill to Address Presidential Immunity Ruling Forthcoming

Americans are tired of Supreme Court justices ‘who think they are beyond accountability,’ said the Senate’s Democrat leader.
Schumer Says Bill to Address Presidential Immunity Ruling Forthcoming
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on June 5, 2024. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
Matthew Vadum

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on July 8 that last week’s Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity put “a crown on Donald Trump’s head.” The lawmaker said he is preparing legislation aimed at lessening the decision’s impact on prosecutions against the former president over allegations related to the 2020 election aftermath.

The Supreme Court’s decision is expected to complicate the prosecution’s criminal case against the former Republican president, who is his party’s presumptive 2024 presidential nominee. Former President Trump faces election-related charges in federal court in Washington and in state court in Fulton County, Georgia.

“We Democrats will not let the Supreme Court’s decision stand unaddressed. The Constitution makes plain that Congress has the authority to check the judiciary through appropriate legislation,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor.

“I will work with my colleagues on legislation classifying Trump’s election-subversion acts as unofficial acts not subject to immunity. We’re doing this because we believe that in America, no president should be free to overturn an election against the will of the people, no matter what the conservative justices may believe.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) responded on the Senate floor, saying Democrats had the wrong take on the immunity decision.

“Their problem with the Supreme Court isn’t that they won’t be able to prosecute a president for unofficial criminal activity—because they still can. Their problem is that they won’t be able to prosecute official actions that they don’t like,” Mr. McConnell said.

“Prominent Democrats seem to look at the successful criminalization of political disagreement in places like Europe and South America and think: ‘They might just be onto something.’”

The speeches took place a week after the Supreme Court ruled on the constitutional question of whether all presidents enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts. The panel of justices voted 6–3.

“Under our constitutional structure of separated powers, the nature of Presidential power entitles a former President to absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within his conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court in the July 1 opinion.

“And he is entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for all his official acts. There is no immunity for unofficial acts.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, writing that the court “makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government, that no man is above the law.”

While Democrats fear that the Supreme Court decision could see former President Trump cleared of the election interference charges, the majority decision didn’t specifically address special counsel Jack Smith’s case. Instead, it sent the election case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for further consideration, after which it may return to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington.

In the Senate, Mr. Schumer added that Democrats will continue working on other proposals aimed at restoring the constitutional authority of Congress “to rein in the abuses of our federal judiciary.”

Senate Democrats are pushing the proposed Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act (SCERT), which would impose new rules on how the nation’s highest court operates.

The bill, which is opposed by Republicans, would allow members of the public to file complaints against justices and create a panel of lower court judges with subpoena powers to investigate.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the Supreme Court for comment.