This Independence Day, the Myth of ‘American Freedom’ Is More Absurd Than Ever

Days before the U.S. marks its independence from the British monarchy, the Supreme Court turned the presidency into an autocracy.

A group of protesters confronts a boat parade for the reelection of President Donald Trump on July 4, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (Jeff Swensen / Getty Images)

In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court just granted near-total immunity to Donald Trump, stating that a former president cannot be criminally prosecuted “for conduct within his exclusive sphere of Constitutional authority.” The supermajority of conservative judges also ruled that presidents also enjoy “at least a presumptive immunity from criminal prosecution” for acts “within the outer perimeter of his unofficial responsibility.” Presidents are not immune from prosecution for “unofficial acts.” 

“The damage has been done,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her scathing dissent. “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.” 

In other words: Just days before the country will mark its independence from the British monarchy, the Supreme Court turned the U.S. presidency into an autocracy. The Fourth of July is officially a farce.

No longer is the phrase ‘no one is above the law’ an American reality. 

Of course, celebrating the “land of the free and the home of the brave” has always been an exercise in willful buffoonery—even before, but especially after, the overturn of Roe v. Wade, which for 50 years established the constitutional right to abortion care. Now, pregnant people across the country are forced to carry unwanted and unsafe pregnancies to term, risking their mental, physical and emotional health as well as their fertility, futures, and even their lives. 

Post-Roe, 14 states have enacted near-total abortion bans and an estimated 1 in 5 people are now forced to travel out of state for care.

To even suggest that the U.S. is a bastion of freedom, when women are bleeding out at home, being turned away from emergency rooms and slipping into comas as doctors debate whether or not they can provide life-saving abortions isn’t just delusional—it’s an intentional fabrication. 

Gay, trans and nonbinary youth are certainly not free to enjoy their unalienable right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” when Republican legislators are busy introducing a record-number of anti-LGBTQ+ laws. In a country that celebrates self-determination, conservative lawmakers have successfully criminalized gender-affirming care, banned teachers from referring to their students by their chosen (read: correct) names and pronouns, and demonized LGBTQ-friendly books in schools and community libraries. 

When entire LGBTQ+ families are fleeing their home states for fear their children will not be able to receive adequate health care, or will be targeted in their classrooms, or will face harassment and even violence at their local grocery store or park, there is no such thing as American liberty. 

When nearly half of LGBTQ+ youth have seriously considered suicide, are 43 percent more likely to be bullied at school and are even terrified to do something as simple as use a public bathroom, the truths this government has claimed to hold “self evident” are, in fact, bold-faced fallacies.

Children living in the U.S. are not free to learn, grow and play inside their elementary, middle and high-school classrooms without fear they will be killed by a shooter who—thanks to lackadaisical gun laws bought and paid for by a criminally negligent gun lobby—gained access to a weapon of war. In 2023 alone, nearly 4,300 people lost their right to life as a result of gun violence. 

The so-called “home of the brave” is filled with people so petrified of their neighbors, strangers and even their own shadows that they continuously claim they do not want but need unfettered access to firearms created specifically to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.


It is a lie to pretend this country upholds the indisputable truth that “all men are created equal” when Black women are six times more likely to be killed than white women, Indigenous women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped than non-Native women, and Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women are more likely to die of pregnancy- and birth-related causes than white women. 

There is no “equality” when women are still paid less than men, Black women are more likely to live in poverty and nearly half of all working women say they’ve experienced sexual harassment in the workplace

For far too long, these hard truths and harrowing statistics have been overlooked or outright ignored in order to perpetuate the illusion that the U.S. is so star-spangled awesome our innate freedom is evenly distributed and our inalienable rights are equally enjoyed. Even now—when it is a crime to be homeless and affirmative action no longer ensures students of color receive fair consideration during the college admissions process—countless Americans will break out U.S. flag tank-tops and red, white, and blue-colored cocktails in celebration of our freedom-loving, equality-prioritizing, so-called superior democracy. 

And like the more than 247 other Fourth of July celebrations that have come before, it will all be a lie. 

Only this time, in the wake of the Supreme Court immunity decision, that lie will be more obvious. No longer is the phrase “no one is above the law” an American reality. 

Our only hope for a future democracy that truly does embody the very best, most aspirational aspects of a free United States is to uphold the other, arguably most important part of the Declaration of Independence: 

“When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and provide new Guards for their future security.” 

It is time for a new guard—new leaders who will hold a corrupt, bribe-taking, insurrectionist flag-flying Supreme Court accountable by establishing hearings, issuing articles of impeachment and expanding the Court itself. It is time for progressive lawmakers to do more than ask for our votes, send out campaign emails and issue stern statements—they must reshape a government that has been poisoned by white supremacy, misogyny and Christian nationalism, or get out of the way so the next generation can. 

Perhaps then, and only then—when everyone has the right to control their own bodies, raise their families free from the threat of gun violence, and send their children into a world that will respect their autonomy and honor their humanity—will the Fourth of July no longer be a sad, cruel joke.

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Danielle Campoamor is a former NBC and TODAY reporter and award-winning freelance writer and editor published in The New York Times, Washington Post, TIME, New York Magazine's The Cut, CNN, MSNBC, Mother Jones, Marie Claire, Vogue, Vanity Fair and more. She covers a wide variety of topics, including reproductive justice and abortion care, gun violence, mental health, gender-based violence, climate change and more. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her husband and two feral sons.