Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Monday put a temporary hold on a lower court order requiring Senator Lindsey Graham to testify in court. Thomas did not offer any explanation for his decision.
After the 2020 presidential election, Graham called Georgia legislators and allegedly tried to convince them to change their election procedures in ways that would influence the vote results. In an attempt to investigate the aftermath of the 2020 elections, a grand jury subpoenaed Graham for testimony about his effort to disrupt the elections. Graham claimed that his conversations were protected speech under the Speech or Debate clause of the Constitution, which says members of Congress are protected from questions about their “speech or debate” relating to the legislative process. The Northern District of Georgia ruled that the Speech and Debate Clause protected only parts of Graham’s speech. However, the court added:
Senator Graham may be questioned about any alleged efforts to encourage
[Georgia] Secretary Raffensperger or others to throw out ballots or otherwise alter
Georgia’s election practices and procedures. Likewise, the grand jury may inquire
into Senator Graham’s alleged communications and coordination with the Trump
Campaign and its post-election efforts in Georgia, as well as into Senator
Graham’s public statements related to Georgia’s 2020 elections.
An appellate court held that Graham may be summoned to testify and that he “has failed to demonstrate that this approach will violate his rights under the Speech and Debate Clause.” After exhausting all other avenues to avoid testimony, Graham requested relief from the Supreme Court, claiming his case “cries out for review.”