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  • AQA Component The constitutional framework of US government

  • Edexcel Component 3: 1.1: The nature of the US Constitution

Background: what you need to know

This article was prompted by a ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, dismissing Donald Trump’s claim to legal immunity from criminal prosecution. Trump’s lawyers wish the case to be heard by the Supreme Court, although no date has yet been fixed.

The DC appeals court argued that whatever immunity a sitting president may enjoy, this does not apply once they have left office. Trump’s supporters, on the other hand, insist that a former president can be prosecuted only if impeached and convicted for similar offences.

You should follow this unfolding story, as it has an important bearing on the forthcoming election. It is a good example of the vagueness of the US Constitution.

Click the link below to read the article and then answer the questions:

Donald Trump asks US Supreme Court to put presidential immunity ruling on hold

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 2

  • Explain and analyse three ways in which the US Constitution may be viewed as ineffective in a highly polarised political environment. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 3

  • Evaluate the view that the US Constitution is no longer fit for purpose in a highly polarised political environment. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: If the immunity case comes before the Supreme Court, its ideological composition may be a factor in how it reaches a judgment. The Court is now heavily conservative-dominated, thanks to three judicial appointments made by Trump during his presidency. However, it should not be assumed that the Court will automatically decide in his favour. In December 2020 it refused, for example, to support a bid by Republicans to overturn the presidential election result in Pennsylvania.

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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