Trump petitions Supreme Court to pause in considering presidential immunity claim
12/27/2023 // Ethan Huff // Views

Former President Donald Trump is asking the Supreme Court to reject a request from special counsel Jack Smith to fast-track issuing a ruling in a dispute about Trump's presidential immunity claims.

Trump wants SCOTUS to take its time in determining whether or not he should be afforded presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for his alleged efforts to subvert the 2020 election, while Smith wants SCOTUS to make a decision at warp speed.

Trump's attorneys wrote in a filing with the high court that its ordinary review procedures will allow the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to address Trump's appeal first, with the benefit of the "historic topics" that were considered by the lower court.

SCOTUS is currently weighing a request from Smith to bypass the D.C. Circuit entirely, and to instead hastily decide on its own whether Trump should be shielded from criminal prosecution for 2020 election interference, to which Trump has already pleaded not guilty.

"In 234 years of American history, no president ever faced criminal prosecution for his official acts," Trump's legal team wrote in the filing. "Until 19 days ago, no court had ever addressed whether immunity from such prosecution exists."

"To this day, no appellate court has addressed it. The question stands among the most complex, intricate and momentous issues that this Court will be called on to decide."

(Related: A former FBI counterintelligence official who helped lead the Trump-Russia collusion investigation was just sentenced to four years in prison for, you guessed it: colluding with Russia.)

Take your time, SCOTUS

In Trump's view, taking the matter slowly and procedurally will allow for a more thorough review as opposed to Smith's request that the high court "rush to decide the issues with reckless abandon."

Trump's lawyers argue that Smith's request lacks legal standing in that the government cannot appeal a ruling that is already in its favor. They also say the indictment returned by a federal grand jury in August charges Trump with acts of political speech and advocacy that occurred while he was still occupying the White House.

"An erroneous denial of a claim of presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts warrants this Court's review – in due course," wrote lawyers John Sauer, John Lauro and Todd Blanche. "Yet importance does not automatically necessitate speed."

In order for Trump's March 4 trial to proceed on schedule, Smith says it is prudent for SCOTUS to issue a ruling on the immunity matter as quickly as possible. Trump's attorneys claim the request has created the "compelling appearance of partisan motivation: To ensure that President Trump – the leading Republican candidate for President, and the greatest electoral threat to President Biden – will face a months-long criminal trial at the height of his presidential campaign."

The March 4 trial is currently scheduled to begin just one day before Super Tuesday when more than a dozen states hold their presidential primary contests. Trump's lawyers say that Smith knows this full well and is pursuing it in this manner because of a partisan interest in supporting Joe Biden.

The issue at hand includes Trump's claim that the four-count indictment against him should be dismissed because the alleged conduct stems from official acts that Trump committed while still president. Trump tried, but failed, to have a federal district court just toss the case earlier this month.

"Whatever immunities a sitting president may enjoy, the United States has only one chief executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong 'get-out-of-jail-free' pass," wrote U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in her Dec. 1 opinion to allow the case against Trump to proceed.

Do you think Trump stands a chance at winning the election in 2024? Find out more at

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