Letter to the editor: Limited leadership immunity OK, but not blanket

Usually heads of state and armed forces and such have limited immunity. The story of Hornblower, who commanded wooden ships in the Napoleonic Wars of around 1814, had a run-in since people accused him of destroying their property. But he was immune as a combatant at war.

In real wars, combatants, including officers are immune. All our presidents are immune from effects of official acts. Imagine General Eisenhower being taken to court for all the damage by the Allies capturing Europe from the Germans. Ike and his armies had legal immunity from civil liability.

On 6 Dec., Congress was officially deciding the next president, by official, time-tested methods. Trump was urging strangers to storm our Capitol to stop those official acts. Even though he was still the president, his actions were against the law and were not official, so his presidential immunity was voided, and he needs to be convicted as guilty of insurrection.

Another example: While Trump was president, he said that the new COVID problem was just like a minor cold, so don’t worry. If this was an official decree of an acting president, he is immune from legal charges of helping to create a medical problem. But if he was just making an off-the-cuff private statement, and he speaks this way often, then, since he held up action on providing help and cures, he might be liable for the resulting sickness and deaths.

Peter Grant


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