US Supreme Court to hear arguments on Trump immunity claim in federal election interference case News
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US Supreme Court to hear arguments on Trump immunity claim in federal election interference case

The US Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday to hear former US President Donald Trump’s immunity claim in the federal 2020 election interference case against him. The court also agreed to extend a pause on the Washington, DC, trial court proceedings in the case, which were set to resume after the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit rejected Trump’s claim of immunity. Trump previously asked the Supreme Court to take up the issue in a February 12 filing in which he asserted that he enjoys “absolute presidential immunity” from the criminal charges brought against him.

In agreeing to take up the case, the US Supreme Court will consider, “Whether and if so to what extent does a former President enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office.”

The court also ordered the DC Circuit to withhold any issuance of its mandate in the case, meaning the trial court proceedings will remain on pause. Prior to Trump’s request that the Supreme Court take up the case, the DC Circuit was set to issue its mandate on February 12. The issuance would have resumed trial court proceedings in the DC federal court overseeing the trial, which have been on pause since Trump filed his first appeal of the immunity claim. The trial court previously rejected Trump’s claim of immunity on December 1, 2023.

Trump celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to take up his immunity claim, writing:

Legal Scholars are extremely thankful for the Supreme Court’s Decision today to take up Presidential Immunity. Without Presidential Immunity, a President will not be able to properly function, or make decisions, in the best interest of the United States of America.

The federal prosecutor leading the case, Special Counsel Jack Smith, had not issued any statement at the time this article was written. But Smith previously urged the court to reject Trump’s request. In response to Trump’s filing with the Supreme Court, Smith said:

[Further] [d]elay in the resolution of these charges threatens to frustrate the public interest in a speedy and fair verdict — a compelling interest in every criminal case and one that has unique national importance here, as it involves federal criminal charges against a former President for alleged criminal efforts to overturn the results of the Presidential election, including through the use of official power.

Trump’s appeal came in the middle of the trial court proceedings in what is known as an interlocutory appeal. That means that no jury has yet been selected in the case. The Supreme Court’s decision to hear Trump’s immunity claim means the trial—which was originally slated for March 4—will be even further delayed. There is speculation that the trial may begin close to the November US presidential election, in which Trump is currently the Republican Party frontrunner.

The court expects written briefs on the issue from Trump and federal prosecutors over the month of March, with the briefs for the parties being due on March 19 and April 8, respectively. The nine justices will then hear oral arguments on the issue during the week of April 22.