‘Dangerous precedent’: Biden denounces court ruling on Trump immunity

US president warns Supreme Court’s decision meant there were virtually no limits on what a president could do in office.

President Joe Biden has denounced the United States Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity as a “dangerous precedent” that undermined the rule of law and called on the American people to “dissent” by rejecting Republican candidate Donald Trump in November’s election.

Biden issued the statement shortly after the highest US court ruled that Trump could not be prosecuted for any actions that were within his constitutional powers as president but could be for private acts. The decision is seen as a landmark ruling recognising for the first time any form of presidential immunity from prosecution.

In an address from the White House on Monday, Biden said the court decision meant Trump, his predecessor and challenger, was highly unlikely to go on trial before the November 5 presidential election for his role in seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election that Biden won.

“This nation was founded on the principle that there are no kings in America. Each, each of us is equal before the law. No one, no one is above the law. Not even the president of the United States,” Biden said.

He said the court’s decision meant there were now virtually no limits on what a president could do.

“It’s a dangerous precedent, because the power of the office will no longer be constrained by the law,” Biden said. “The only limits will be self-imposed by the president alone.”

‘I dissent’

Biden said he sided with liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote she feared for US democracy in her dissent in the 6-3 ruling by the conservative-leaning court. Three members of the court are Trump appointees.

“Now the American people will have to do what the court should have been willing to do, but will not. The American people will render judgement on Donald Trump’s tenure,” Biden said.

“I concur with Justice Sotomayor’s dissent today,” he added. “So should the American people dissent. I dissent. May God bless you all. May God help preserve our democracy,” Biden said in closing.

Asked on Fox News about Biden’s remarks, House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, called them “despicable” and “dangerous” and accused the president of “trying to undermine the Supreme Court”.

Biden is running for re-election against Trump, a rematch of the 2020 vote, and has been sharply critical of his rival’s actions related to the January 6, 2021 raid on the US Capitol by Trump’s supporters who believed his false claims that he had won the 2020 election.

“Now the man who sent that mob to the US Capitol is facing potential criminal conviction for what happened that day,” Biden said. “Now, because of today’s decision, that is highly, highly unlikely. It’s a terrible disservice to the people in this nation.”

During his brief remarks, the president did not take questions or mention the debate with Trump, his shaky performance triggering anxiety in the Democratic Party.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies