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Trump v. United States

In United States v. Trump, Mr. Trump is charged with federal crimes committed in an alleged effort to perpetuate himself in power and prevent the lawful winner of the 2020 presidential election from taking office. In the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Trump is arguing that he is immune from prosecution in the case because, he says, the acts with which he is charged fall within the scope of a president’s duties.

Public Citizen filed an amicus brief explaining that the acts with which he is charged cannot reasonably be claimed to fall within a president’s duties. As the brief explains, president has no constitutionally assigned role in the conduct of presidential elections. And any assertion that a president’s authority empowers him to conspire to overturn the result of a valid election and retain power beyond his term in office is absurd.

Moreover, the brief continues, accepting a view of presidential authority that would sweep in a conspiracy to overturn an election and remain in office unlawfully would have exceptionally broad implications and threaten severe damage to our constitutional democracy. The Constitution does not prohibit holding a former president accountable to the law when he is alleged to have engaged in criminal violations aimed at overthrowing our constitutional form of government. And reading the Constitution to prohibit the only efficacious means of deterring its own destruction by a President tempted do so would disregard the aphorism that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. Our brief urges the Court not to countenance invocation of constitutional principles of separation of powers as part of the strategy for overthrowing them.