Appeals Court Rules Trump Not Immune from Jan 6th Lawsuits

A federal appeals court has ruled that former President Donald Trump is not immune from civil lawsuits for his Jan. 6, 2021 speech - Trump will Appeal to Supreme Court


by Tom Ozimek, The Epoch Times, November 29, 2023

 
A federal appeals court ruled on Dec. 29 that former President Donald Trump is not immune from civil lawsuits relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol.

Friday’s order was issued by a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals and affirms a similar Dec. 1 ruling issued by the same court, which found that President Trump’s actions leading up to and on Jan. 6 were part of his campaign for a second term in the White House and not an official presidential act.

“On appeal, the only question is whether President Trump has demonstrated his entitlement to official-act immunity,” reads the Dec. 29 order in a lawsuit filed in 2021 by Capitol Police veteran Conrad Smith and seven of his colleagues.

President Trump’s attorneys had argued that he should be granted immunity because his alleged actions around Jan. 6 amounted to official speech on “matters of public concern.”

But the three-judge panel—consisting of Judges Sri Srinivasan, Judith Rogers, and Gregory Katsas—disagreed.
“That argument fails” because President Trump’s commentary and actions around Jan. 6 bear “no inherent connection to the essential distinction between official and unofficial acts” because they were not part of his official duties to share “matters of public concern” and so he’s ineligible to presidential immunity.

President Trump is entitled to request a rehearing before a full panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals. The case could also make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.


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A request for comment on the judgment sent to the Trump campaign was not immediately returned.

Even though President Trump said in his Jan. 6 speech that protesters should “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” his critics have seized on a portion of his remarks where he said “we fight like hell” and “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” as a call for violence.

Even though President Trump said in his Jan. 6 speech that protesters should “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” his critics have seized on a portion of his remarks where he said “we fight like hell” and “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” as a call for violence.

“The lies of this conspiracy intentionally energized white supremacists and violent extremist groups and actively encouraged them to coordinate the violent attack on the Capitol,” Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, said in a statement in August 2021, which claimed that President Trump’s actions ahead of Jan. 6 put the plaintiffs in harm’s way.

At the time, Mr. Smith and his co-plaintiffs issued the following statement: “On Jan. 6, we tried to stop people from breaking the law and destroying our democracy. Since then, our jobs and those of our colleagues have become infinitely more dangerous. We want to do what we can to make sure the people who did this are held accountable and that no one can do this again.”

President Trump has rejected claims that he in any way incited violence on Jan. 6, 2021, pointing to remarks he made that called for demonstrators to protest peacefully. In a bid to dismiss the lawsuit, his attorneys argued that the complaint should be tossed because he, as president, was eligible for immunity.

The court rejected President Trump’s bid to have the case dismissed, however, leading eventually to the Dec. 29 judgment that his remarks on Jan. 6 were not official acts as president, so the immunity shield doesn’t apply.

 

 

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