The supremes gave us a king

Published July 4, 2024

By Tom Campbell


  How would this nation’s founders react to the Supreme Court’s decision on presidential immunity? Students of history would likely say those patriots would be appalled and frightened.
The 13 colonies rebelled under the monarchy in Great Britain. They were willing to fight to the death to rid themselves of a ruler with absolute power to tax and govern them. After the long and sacrificial war, the new states were resolute to never again subject themselves to so much authority by one person.
They were so determined that their first attempt at drawing a governing agreement, The Articles of Confederation, was so weak and decentralized it became quickly apparent it wouldn’t work.  Even after drawing the new US Constitution, states like North Carolina refused to ratify it into law until a Bill of Rights, guaranteeing and protecting peoples’ rights was added in 1790.
There was a big debate over what to call the leader of this new nation. The framers finally settled on the title of president. From the beginning the framers’ intent was that this president’s powers be subservient to and dependent upon the Congress and, to a lesser extent, the states.
Over our 248-year history we’ve witnessed the authority and power of the presidency expand. Not only has the president become the most powerful person in America, but arguably in the world. The immunity case brought before the court focused on the actions of Donald Trump, but in their 6-3 decision the Supreme Court not only affirmed that Trump had virtually unlimited immunity, they gave that power to future presidents.
In speaking for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “the president is not above the law,” however a full reading of the decision appears to say otherwise. It declares that the nation’s chief executive has immunity from any “official” act he takes and, while it says that might not be true with “unofficial” acts, the Supremes failed to distinguish between what is official and what is unofficial. Further, they didn’t specify who would decide between the two.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in condemning the majority decision, said, “The relationship between the president and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the president is now a king above the law.”
We fought a war to escape King George and now the court has essentially declared the president a king. One can reasonably suspect the 6 justices assumed the new monarch would be King Donald.
I’ve made no secret of my contempt for Donald Trump. Spend any time reading his rants and declarations and I believe reasonable people could conclude that he is an existential threat to this nation.
That belief is further confirmed when you read about Project 2025. This 1,000-page document outlines the plan for what will happen beginning January 20th, should Trump once again put his hand on the Bible and swear to preserve, protect and defend our constitution. Some 3,000 current federal employees are to be fired immediately, replaced by Trump cult disciples willing to obey any directive the king gives. Civil servants are presumably protected from wrongful termination, however that has never bothered Trump before. Now he will have immunity from prosecution.
Most Americans have never heard of Project 2025 but let me suggest you investigate it. Even a cursory examination points to a massive, all-encompassing plan to radically change our government. Many months and many people have worked to envision and outline its goals, with actions taken after a Trump inauguration.
You may think Project 2025 sounds like a made-for-TV movie plot or a fantasy-fiction book, but a growing number are convinced of its authenticity and are alarmed at the potential impact it will have. And maybe this writer is a bit paranoid, but I can’t help but wonder if the court’s immunity decision wasn’t part of Project 2025.
Let us be clear. Our government isn’t perfect. Neither are those who work in it. But the solution to problems isn’t a wholesale discarding of everything and starting anew. Such actions would create chaos, making our nation susceptible to foreign interventions.
November’s elections become more important every day. Nowhere is this more evident than in North Carolina. Not only will our state have a significant impact on determining who becomes our next president, but we have pretty clear options between candidates for governor, attorney general and superintendent of public instruction. This is no time to disengage, stay home and sit this one out.
Thank God the men and women in 1776 were up to the challenge of opposing the monarchy. The question today is whether we have that same resolve.
We don’t want and don’t need a king.
Tom Campbell is a Hall of Fame North Carolina broadcaster and columnist who has covered North Carolina public policy issues since 1965.  Contact him at