EDITORIAL: Immunity decision dangerous to democracy


Advertise with us

Lady Justice, often portrayed as a statue outside court houses is a familiar sight. She holds a set of scales to weigh the evidence, a sword to enact justice and wears a blindfold. That blindfold symbolizes that justice is blind, that the same degree of justice awaits everyone regardless of who they are.

Of course, that’s not something court systems have always managed to deliver. Statistics have long shown in the United States that people of colour will face harsher sentences than white people for the same crime.

Money can also buy one’s way out of trouble, with the rich suffering much lighter consequences than those who can’t afford to hire top quality lawyers.

But at least the concept that justice is blind was one we could embrace as an ideal.

That blindfold was ripped off in the U.S. on Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump can’t be prosecuted for actions that were within his constitutional powers as a president.

That means that what is illegal for more than 333 million Americans could be perfectly legal for their leader.

The Supreme Court justices voted 6-3 to make this decision, rejecting a lower court’s decision that had rejected Trump’s claim of immunity.

Theyrejected it because it simply didn’t make sense.

Justice works when we are all subject to the consequences.

Yes, the leader of a country often has power to work outside the law, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t face the consequences when they do.

Chief Justice John Roberts claimed that the nature of presidential power required that a former president have some immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts during his tenure in office.

Imagine knowing the lack of morality is so extreme in your government that it would be impossible for a president to rule without breaking the law.

President Joe Biden disagreed with the decision saying there are no kings in America. “No one is above the law, not even the president of the United States,” he said.

On the subject of morality, it’s interesting how Biden’s reaction was to say no president is above the law, while Trump hammered out an all caps social media post claiming it was somehow a big win for the constitution and democracy.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her dissent along with Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown pulled no punches, explaining that according to the decision he will be insulated from criminal prosecution.

“Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune,” she wrote.

The three justices paint a scary picture of what the decision means, and they aren’t wrong.

This decision makes the U.S. look even more backward than Trump did on a good day.

They are no longer the country of freedom and fairness, and perhaps haven’t been for some time.

But this is the first-time lawmakers at that level have allowed themselves to admit it.

As Canadians we may think this is a uniquely American problem. We can pat ourselves on the back and say that will never happen here.

But the truth is most of what happens in the U.S. eventually oozes over the border.

They’ve politicized guns for many years. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has done the same. In both cases it’s too encourage fear in the populace and distract from actual problems.

The ridiculous conspiracy theories around vaccines also gained prominence in the U.S. and yet now we all know people who are otherwise fairly intelligent, lose their minds over fake news and fears of the life saving vaccines.

The rumour that schools were installing litter boxes for children who identified as cats was also started in the U.S. Never mind that it was completely unfounded and was factually incorrect, it began to pop up right here in southern Manitoba only a year or so later.

So given that stupidity always seems to spread, we can’t be sure that Canada wouldn’t see this very same argument take place.

Imagine Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with unchecked power, able to commit illegal acts at will, while he’s prime minister.

Considering the unethical nature of the Liberal government when it comes to protecting their cronies and paying off their friends, a get out of jail free card may just be too tempting to ignore.

And the same is true for any former prime minister as well.

Luckily this isn’t a current crisis facing our government.

For now, it’s simply the Americans making a laughingstock of their justice system.

It may be to protect the cult of Trump right now, but these things have a way of leading to unintended consequences. With this change in law on the books, who knows what could happen many years down the road, regardless of which party is in power.

Report Error Submit a Tip