Here's Why Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor Disagrees With the Trump V United States Outcome

3 Jul 2024

Trump v. United States Court Filing, retrieved on July 1, 2024, is part of HackerNoon’s Legal PDF Series. You can jump to any part in this filing here. This part is 11 of 21.


Today’s decision to grant former Presidents criminal immunity reshapes the institution of the Presidency. It makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government, that no man is above the law. Relying on little more than its own misguided wisdom about the need for “bold and unhesitating action” by the President, ante, at 3, 13, the Court gives former President Trump all the immunity he asked for and more. Because our Constitution does not shield a former President from answering for criminal and treasonous acts, I dissent.


The indictment paints a stark portrait of a President desperate to stay in power.

In the weeks leading up to January 6, 2021, then President Trump allegedly “spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won,” App. 181, Indictment ¶2, despite being “notified repeatedly” by his closest advisers “that his claims were untrue,” id., at 188, ¶11.

When dozens of courts swiftly rejected these claims, Trump allegedly “pushed officials in certain states to ignore the popular vote; disenfranchise millions of voters; dismiss legitimate electors; and ultimately, cause the ascertainment of and voting by illegitimate electors” in his favor. Id., at 185–186, ¶10(a). It is alleged that he went so far as to threaten one state election official with criminal prosecution if the official did not “‘find’ 11,780 votes” Trump needed to change the election result in that state. Id., at 202, ¶31(f ).

When state officials repeatedly declined to act outside their legal authority and alter their state election processes, Trump and his co-conspirators purportedly developed a plan to disrupt and displace the legitimate election certification process by organizing fraudulent slates of electors. See id., at 208–209, ¶¶53–54.

As the date of the certification proceeding neared, Trump allegedly also sought to “use the power and authority of the Justice Department” to bolster his knowingly false claims of election fraud by initiating “sham election crime investigations” and sending official letters “falsely claim[ing] that the Justice Department had identified significant concerns that may have impacted the election outcome” while “falsely present[ing] the fraudulent electors as a valid alternative to the legitimate electors.” Id., at 186–187, ¶10(c).

When the Department refused to do as he asked, Trump turned to the Vice President. Initially, he sought to persuade the Vice President “to use his ceremonial role at the January 6 certification proceeding to fraudulently alter the election results.” Id., at 187, ¶10(d). When persuasion failed, he purportedly “attempted to use a crowd of supporters that he had gathered in Washington, D. C., to pressure the Vice President to fraudulently alter the election results.” Id., at 221, ¶86.

Speaking to that crowd on January 6, Trump “falsely claimed that, based on fraud, the Vice President could alter the outcome of the election results.” Id., at 229, ¶104(a). When this crowd then “violently attacked the Capitol and halted the proceeding,” id., at 188, ¶10(e), Trump allegedly delayed in taking any step to rein in the chaos he had unleashed. Instead, in a last desperate ploy to hold onto power, he allegedly “attempted to exploit the violence and chaos at the Capitol” by pressuring lawmakers to delay the certification of the election and ultimately declare him the winner. Id., at 233, ¶119. That is the backdrop against which this case comes to the Court.

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