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Democratic Lawmaker Proposes Amendment to Counter SCOTUS Immunity Ruling

 July 4, 2024

Rep. Joseph Morelle, a key House Democrat, is spearheading a constitutional amendment in response to a decisive Supreme Court ruling that grants presidents significant immunity from criminal prosecution.

Morelle's initiative seeks to ensure presidential accountability, challenging the legal protections extended by the Supreme Court's conservative majority in favor of former President Donald Trump, as the Associated Press reports.

Morelle's Amendment Aims to Counteract Supreme Court Ruling

Morelle officially began the amendment process by sending a letter to his colleagues, expressing intentions to file a resolution. The amendment seeks to ensure that no president can evade accountability under U.S. law.

The landmark decision from the Supreme Court has ignited significant political discourse. Chief Justice John Roberts, who penned the opinion, stated that presidents possess broad immunity from criminal prosecution for their official actions.

This ruling has significant implications, particularly for the Justice Department's ongoing cases against Trump. It includes efforts to investigate attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.

Sharp Dissent from Liberal Justices and Federal Case Implications

In response to the ruling, the court's liberal justices issued a stern dissent, voicing concerns about the potential risks to American democracy. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson were notably quoted by Morelle in his arguments against the ruling.

Trump's legal team has already leveraged this decision to delay his felony conviction sentencing in an unrelated New York case. Consequently, the judge has postponed Trump's sentencing until fall, further complicating the federal cases likely to persist beyond the upcoming November election.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was also vocal in her opposition, equating the ruling to "an assault on American democracy." She has announced plans to file articles of impeachment against the justices involved.

Amendment's Lengthy Path to Ratification

The constitutional amendment process is notably arduous, requiring a two-thirds majority vote from both the House and Senate. Following congressional approval, the amendment must be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

History bears witness to the rigorous nature of this process, with only 27 amendments having been successfully added to the U.S. Constitution. Morelle's proposed amendment seeks to firmly establish that no public officer, including the president, can evade legal accountability.

Morelle emphasized this point stating, "This amendment will guarantee that no public officer of the United States -- including the president -- is able to evade the accountability that any other American would face for violating our laws."

Political Reactions and Forward Steps

Morelle urged his congressional colleagues to back his proposal, highlighting the fundamental necessity of holding presidents accountable for their actions. "Presidents are citizens, not tyrants," he asserted.

Ocasio-Cortez echoed these sentiments, emphasizing Congress's role in defending the nation from what she termed authoritarian capture. She underscored the urgency and gravity of the situation, indicating her readiness to file articles of impeachment against the justices responsible for the ruling.

This proposed amendment represents a significant legislative undertaking aimed at preserving democratic principles. The Supreme Court's contentious ruling, favoring presidential immunity, has sparked substantial debate and catalyzed swift legislative action.

As the amendment process unfolds, it may take years before any resolution is reached. In the meantime, the ruling's impact on ongoing and future legal proceedings against Trump remains a topic of considerable discussion and concern.

In summary, Rep. Morelle's proposed constitutional amendment seeks to counteract a Supreme Court decision granting presidents broad immunity from prosecution.

Concurrently, federal cases involving Trump are expected to continue into the next election cycle, underlining the pressing need for legislative clarification on presidential accountability.

This is a crucial developmental story, with ramifications not only for Trump but also for future presidencies and the broader landscape of American jurisprudence.