Former President Trump is asking the Supreme Court to extend the delay in his election interference trial, claiming he is immune from prosecution on charges he plotted to overturn his 2020 election loss.
His lawyers have filed an emergency appeal with the court
Monday, just four days after the justices heard Trump’s separate appeal to continue participating in the presidential election despite efforts to remove him from office over his efforts following his 2020 election loss.
Without immunity from criminal prosecution, the presidency as we know it will cease to exist, Trump’s lawyers wrote, repeating arguments that have so far failed in federal courts.
The filing puts a historic trial against a former president on hold while the nation’s highest court decides what to do next. It met the deadline to ask the justices to intervene, which the federal appeals court in Washington set when it rejected Trump’s immunity claims and ruled the trial could proceed.
The Supreme Court’s decision on what to do and how quickly it acts could determine whether the Republican presidential nominee goes to trial in the case before the November election.
There is no timetable for the court to act, but special prosecutor Jack Smith’s team has strongly pushed for the trial to take place this year. Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly tried to postpone the case. If Trump were to defeat President Biden, he could potentially try to use his position as head of the executive branch to order a new attorney general to dismiss the federal cases he is facing or even seek a pardon for himself.
The Supreme Court’s options include dismissing the emergency appeal, which would allow U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to resume trial proceedings in Washington federal court. Initially, the trial was scheduled to begin in early March.
The court could also extend the delay while it hears arguments on the immunity issue. In that case, the schedule the justices might set would determine how quickly a trial could begin, if they indeed agree with lower courts’ rulings that Trump is not immune from prosecution.
In December, Smith and his team had urged the justices to take up the immunity issue and rule on it before the appeals court had ruled. It is of absolute public interest that the respondents’ claim for immunity is resolved by this Court and that the trial of the respondents proceeds in the same manner as expeditiously if his claim for immunity is rejected, prosecutors wrote in December.
Trump’s legal team has attributed partisan motives to the prosecutor’s push for a speedy trial, writing in December that it reflects a clear desire to delay President Trump’s potential trial in the summer of 2024, at the height of the election season plan.
Now it’s up to a court that includes three justices, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil
Gorsuch and Brett
Kavanaugh was appointed by Trump when he was president. They have shifted the court to the right in landmark decisions that overturned abortion rights, expanded gun rights, and ended affirmative action in college admissions.
But the Supreme Court has not been particularly friendly to Trump when it comes to legal matters directly affecting the former president. The court declined to hear several appeals filed by Trump and his allies related to the 2020 election. It also declined to prevent tax files and other documents from being turned over to congressional committees and prosecutors in New York.
Last week, however, it seemed likely that the justices would put an end to efforts to prevent Trump from running in the 2024 election. A decision in that case could come at any time.
The Supreme Court has previously ruled that presidents are immune from civil liability for official actions, and Trump’s lawyers have been arguing for months that that protection should be extended to criminal charges.
Last week, a unanimous panel of two judges appointed by Biden and one by a Republican president sharply rejected Trump’s new claim that former presidents enjoy absolute immunity for actions within their official duties. It was the second time since December that judges have ruled that Trump can be prosecuted for actions taken at the White House and leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
The Washington case is one of four prosecutions Trump faces in his bid to win back the White House. He faces federal charges in Florida for illegally withholding classified documents from his Mar-a-Lago estate, a case also brought by Smith that will go to trial in May.
He is also charged in state court in Georgia for plotting to undermine the 2020 election, and in New York in connection with hush money payments to porn actor Stormy Daniels. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Fernando Dowling is an author and political journalist who writes for 24 News Globe. He has a deep understanding of the political landscape and a passion for analyzing the latest political trends and news.