Federal Judge Rejects Trump’s Claim of Absolute Immunity from Civil Liability

After having his claim of absolute immunity from civil liability in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol dismissed by a second federal judge, advocacy groups now have a second chance to hold the former president Donald Trump responsible under the Voting Rights Act and the Ku Klux Klan Act.

As reported by Law and Crime, on Monday, Senior U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan issued a 23-page order, with the title reading, “Former President Trump is Not Absolutely Immune From Damages Liability.”

Trump’s Claims Rejected

The judge, who had already dismissed other claims connected to the January 6 attack, stated that presidents normally can use “absolute” privilege when defending against proceedings for damages when the behavior at issue relates to official duties.

The Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, based in Detroit, filed a lawsuit against Trump and the RNC under the Voting Rights Act and the KKK Act after the 2020 election. 

These laws were enacted during the Reconstruction era to safeguard the rights of recently freed slaves from white supremacists.  The NAACP and the three African-American voters from Detroit pointed out that Trump and the RNC focused his attempts to undermine the election on communities with large populations.

As per the report, Sullivan ruled in April that the groups didn’t have the right to sue for injunctive relief under the VRA because they couldn’t prove they would be affected in the future. 

The judge, however, has postponed the decision on the KKK Act charges, giving the plaintiffs more time to amend their lawsuit so that it meets the necessary procedural requirements. 

Trump argued it would be “futile” to sue him after the 2020 election since he would be fulfilling his official duties but the judge disagreed.

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Court Backs Civil Rights Groups

Judge Emmet Sullivan stated that Trump’s actions after the 2020 election were motivated by politics and so went beyond the scope of presidential immunity.

According to NBC News, Sullivan noted that, contrary to what the plaintiffs claim, any interference by former President Trump in the certification of the electoral vote tally “would not constitute executive action in defense of the Constitution.”

In light of all of these factors, Sullivan came to the conclusion that the court should rule that former President Trump is not immune from monetary damages in the case.

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