Protect Democracy has filed an amicus brief on behalf of constitutional law professors responding to President Trump’s argument that he is immune from suit in state court. The brief, filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Zervos v. Trump, is on behalf of three scholars — Pennsylvania Law School professor Stephen Burbank, Harvard Law School professor Richard Parker, and University of Texas law professor Lucas Powe Jr. — who filed a brief advancing a similar argument 20 years ago in Clinton v. Jones.
The brief argues that in our constitutional system, “No one in our nation is above the law, not even the President.” As the brief explains, “To immunize the President in all cases, including even in cases having nothing to do with the President’s official duties, would be to attach Presidential immunity not to an office but a person. And to immunize a person would violate the principle that ours is ‘a government of laws and not of men.’” Protect Democracy and the scholars take no position on the underlying claims in the case — a defamation suit based on statements Trump made before becoming President. But as the brief states, “Now as in 1997, their concern is with the legal principle that the President, who is not above the law, is not immune from civil suit for the actions he takes in his unofficial capacity.”
The scholars were also represented by attorneys from Ropes & Gray LLP and Prof. Richard Primus of the University of Michigan Law School.