Media Mention

Alan Raul: “The Supreme Court should not decide immunity ‘for the ages’”

May 5, 2024

Writing in The Hill, Society Board Secretary Alan Raul argued that — in Trump v. United States — the Supreme Court should “treat the Trump immunity decision as the easy ‘non-official’ electioneering case that it is and avoid making a definitive, complicated and time-consuming ruling on presidential immunity to address other conceivable circumstances.”

Alan writes:

The more the Supreme Court decides in the Trump immunity case, the greater the chance it will disrupt the balance of power among the branches and torque current understandings unpredictably and unnecessarily. Better for the court to decide narrowly that:

(1) there is no absolute criminal immunity for presidents;

(2) a president who uses any means (including ostensibly or tangentially official means) to overturn an election to stay in office is engaging in quintessentially personal, political electioneering: and

(3) whether future presidents are entitled to any criminal immunity for core, outer-perimeter or any other official acts will be determined based on the specific circumstances presented and constitutional values at stake …

So less here is more. The shorter and simpler the court’s immunity decision, the more commonsensical and norm-preserving it will be. Send the case back to the District Court with terse direction to determine at trial whether Trump’s conduct, as proven, entailed electioneering to remain in office by hook or by crook. If the court does that, and only that, future presidents will be neither chilled nor emboldened in the effective discharge of their public duties. Rather, they will just know that, as candidates for office, they are not above the law.

Read the op-ed here.