Appeals Court Says Trump Doesn’t Have Immunity From Jan 6 Trial

 December 31, 2023

In a landmark ruling, a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, concerning the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack, has been allowed to proceed.

Seven Capitol Police officers initiated a lawsuit. They claimed that Trump and his allies were responsible for their injuries during the attack.

Donald Trump, along with organizations like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, and individuals including Roger Stone, were named as defendants. The officers sought compensation for their injuries.

In response, Trump claimed absolute immunity from civil lawsuits, citing his presidential status. However, a district judge rejected this claim.

Court Challenges Presidential Immunity

The appeals court upheld the district judge's decision. They agreed that Trump does not have broad immunity for actions deemed unofficial, like his speech on January 6.

The court highlighted a crucial distinction. They stated that campaigning for re-election is not an official act protected by presidential immunity, CBS News reported.

Speaking outside the White House before the Capitol breach, Trump's speech was scrutinized. Judge Amit Mehta remarked that these comments were not part of Trump's official duties.

Mehta described the speech as an "implicit call for imminent violence or lawlessness". He emphasized that such speech is not safeguarded by presidential immunity or the First Amendment.

Impact on Presidential Speech and Immunity

The court's decision has significant implications. It challenges the traditional boundaries of presidential immunity and the nature of political speech.

Trump retains the option to appeal this ruling. He can take his case to the full appeals court or even the Supreme Court.

This is not the first time Trump has claimed immunity in relation to the January 6 events. His claims have been consistently unsuccessful in other related cases.

Legal Perspectives on Official and Unofficial Acts

The court's reasoning delved deep into the nature of presidential acts.

They argued that whether Trump's actions involved speech on public concerns did not inherently connect to the distinction between official and unofficial acts.

This distinction became a cornerstone of the court's decision. They emphasized that a president's campaign for re-election is not an official presidential act.

The court's rationale was clear and distinct. "When a first-term president opts to seek a second term, his campaign to win re-election is not an official presidential act. The Office of the Presidency as an institution is agnostic about who will occupy it next. And campaigning to gain that office is not an official act of the office."

Broader Implications of the Court's Decision

This decision potentially sets a precedent. It could affect how future presidents and their actions are viewed in legal contexts.

It underscores the separation between a president's official duties and personal or political activities.

The ruling also sends a message about the limits of presidential power and immunity, especially in situations involving civil lawsuits.


This case represents a significant moment in American legal history. It challenges the traditionally perceived boundaries of presidential immunity and the nature of political speech by a sitting president. The decision's implications extend beyond this specific case, potentially affecting future presidential conduct and the legal interpretation of official acts.

  • A federal appeals court ruled that a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump can proceed.
  • Seven Capitol Police officers brought the lawsuit, alleging injuries due to the January 6 attack.
  • The court rejected Trump's claim of absolute immunity from civil lawsuits.
  • Trump's speech on January 6 was deemed an unofficial act, not protected by immunity.
  • The ruling challenges traditional views on presidential immunity and the nature of political speech.
  • Trump has the option to appeal the ruling to the full appeals court or the Supreme Court.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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