Supreme Court Ruling Poses Challenges for Donald Trump’s Trial

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted permission to former President Donald Trump to present his case of immunity in his federal election subversion criminal case. This development poses a potential delay to his scheduled trial, which comes at a time when the 2024 presidential election cycle is gaining momentum.

The court issued a brief order on Wednesday evening, stating that the upcoming oral arguments, set to take place during the week of April 22, would determine whether ex-presidents are immune from criminal prosecution for conduct related to their official acts.

The Context

Trump, who is the clear frontrunner among Republicans in the upcoming election, is currently dealing with a total of 91 felony counts spread out over four different criminal cases. Despite the gravity of the charges against him, he maintains his innocence and asserts that he is being targeted due to political motives, referring to it as a “witch hunt.”

The legal team of the former president has argued in the appeals court that his federal election subversion charges should be invalidated due to presidential immunity. These charges stemmed from the investigations conducted by Special Counsel Jack Smith. However, this claim was rejected by the appeals court, prompting the legal team to make a further appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s decision to take up the case will cause further delays to the start of a potential trial. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan had initially set the trial to begin on March 22.

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If Trump wins the election in November without a concluded trial, it is highly likely that charges against the ex-president will be dropped. The Supreme Court, which currently holds a conservative majority of 6-3, includes three justices who were appointed by Trump.

What We Know

The Supreme Court addressed an important question in its recent order: What is the extent of a former president’s immunity from criminal prosecution for actions related to official duties during their time in office?

Before the oral arguments begin in the week of April 22, Trump’s team must submit any briefs on the merits of their claim and supporting amicus curiae by March 19. Smith, on the other hand, has a filing deadline of April 8. Trump’s team must provide their final responses a week before the trial, on April 15.

The court will need to decide on the issue before proceeding with the case and determining potential trial dates.

On Wednesday night, Trump and Smith were contacted by Newsweek via email for comment.

Views

In a jubilant tone, Trump took to Truth Social to express his delight over the ruling. He proudly proclaimed, “Legal scholars across the nation are immensely grateful for the Supreme Court’s decision today to address the issue of Presidential Immunity.”

“Presidents will always be concerned, and even paralyzed, by the prospect of wrongful prosecution and retaliation after they leave office,” wrote Trump, emphasizing the importance of Presidential Immunity. According to him, without this protection, a President would face obstacles in functioning effectively and making decisions that prioritize the best interests of the United States of America.

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According to legal experts and scholars, it has been pointed out that the President should possess complete presidential immunity. As one expert mentioned, “A President must have the freedom to make appropriate decisions.”

In contrast, the decision received varying opinions from a range of legal experts, scholars, and critics of Trump.

“There was absolutely no rationale for the Supreme Court to hear this case,” remarked Michael Luttig, a retired federal appeals court judge with conservative views, during an interview on MSBC. “According to the Constitution and the laws of the United States, there has never been any dispute over the fact that a former president can be held accountable for any crimes committed during their time in office.”

“The former president could potentially face trial before the election if the Supreme Court acted swiftly,” he remarked. However, the recent ruling has made it even more improbable.”

Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner criticized the Supreme Court for granting a favor to Trump in a post on X. Kirschner expressed his belief that the court’s ruling was detrimental to American democracy, stating that it appeared as though they had betrayed the nation in their efforts to assist the former president.

“I don’t think SCOTUS will overturn the DC Circuit’s immunity judgment,” shared Anthony Michael Kreis, a constitutional law professor at the Georgia State University College of Law, on X. “Although I’m somewhat surprised that there were four votes to address this issue seriously. Nonetheless, I can also understand the Court’s strategy of trying to grant something to Trump on the one hand, while taking it away on the other.”

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“The recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States serves as a stark reminder that the insurrection, far from being a failed attempt, is an ongoing issue,” shared Mary Trump, the estranged niece of the former president.

What’s Next

The final decision on Trump’s immunity claim is still uncertain, as oral arguments are set to take place in late April. It is unclear when exactly the Supreme Court will make their ruling, as the current session is expected to continue until June 20. This means that the decision could potentially be delayed until the end of the session.

If Trump’s claim of immunity is accepted, the case will be immediately dismissed. However, if the court rules against the former president, Chutkan will likely promptly schedule a new trial date.

It remains uncertain whether the rescheduled trial will commence before the November 5 election. Nevertheless, there is a possibility that Trump might have to attend court proceedings before his political future is determined, considering his involvement in various criminal cases and civil lawsuits.

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