Society

Trump Should Not Receive Immunity From Civil Lawsuits

| by Mark Jones
President Donald TrumpPresident Donald Trump

President Donald Trump should not be granted immunity in any lawsuits regarding actions he took before he became president. 

Two weeks before the 2016 presidential election, USA Today reported that Trump was facing an obscene amount of lawsuits -- 4,000 or more -- involving either himself or his companies. Of those 4,000 lawsuits, a whopping 75 were open and active at the time.

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Trump's lawsuit troubles have not gone away since his time as a presidential candidate, and nor should they. 

For example, CNN reports that as of April, one particular lawsuit that Trump is facing was filed by Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau. The lawsuit accuses Trump of inciting violence against the women at a campaign rally in 2016. 

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In addition, Trump is facing a lawsuit filed by former "The Apprentice" contestant, Summer Zervos, reports PBS. Zervos claims that Trump defamed her in 2016 when he denied her allegations that he had groped her back in 2007. She is seeking "at least" $2,914 in damages. 

According to PBS, it is unclear how many lawsuits Trump is still currently facing. However, one thing should remain abundantly clear: Trump should not be let off the hook for any of these cases because of his position as president. 

In regards to both of the specific cases mentioned above, Trump is seeking to get the lawsuits dismissed by invoking the idea of presidential immunity. 

In a court filing for the Zervos case on March 27, Trump's lawyers cited the case of "Nixon v. Fitzgerald" in 1982 and argued that the lawsuit against Trump should be suspended or dismissed until after the end of Trump's term to allow him to focus on his job.

Trump's defense also cited a Supreme Court ruling regarding the lawsuit filed by the protestors. "Mr. Trump is immune from suit because he is President of the United States," the attorneys for the case wrote in a court filing on April 14. "Mr. Trump is immune from proceedings pursuant to 'Clinton v. Jones.'"

Trump's defense council's decision to cite Supreme Court cases might at first seem like an effective tactic. However, when one examines the cases at greater length, it becomes apparent that the lawyers do not have a clear understanding of what the idea of presidential immunity entails. 

According to PBS, the court in "Nixon vs. Fitzgerald" ruled that presidents are not liable for damages in lawsuits that concern official acts they make as president. In addition, the court in "Clinton v. Jones" ruled that former President Bill Clinton could face lawsuits for actions he took before becoming president. Simply put, these cases illustrate that presidential immunity can only be applied to the actions an individual takes while acting as president, not actions they took before. 

With this in mind, it becomes clear that Trump's claims of immunity have no ground because the actions he is being sued for took place before he became president. Had he committed those actions while he was president, his lawyers might have indeed been able to invoke presidential immunity. However, he performed these actions when he was a normal citizen and must therefore face the consequences. 

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: CNN, PBS, USA Today / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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