Supreme Court Takes On Trump Immunity Case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear former President Donald Trump’s argument that he is immune from criminal prosecution on charges of allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 election while president, setting historic oral arguments for the week of April 22 and further delaying his trial in D.C. during this presidential election year.

The Supreme Court set a fast-tracked schedule for the former president’s attorneys and special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors to file written arguments over the next seven weeks on the pending question: “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?”

In taking Trump’s case, the SCOTUS also ordered that his trial, initially set to begin Monday in Washington, continue to be placed on hold pending its final decision.

Trump, who is again running for president, will probably not face trial before summer at the earliest, if at all. If the Supreme Court rejects his appeal in May or June and agrees that he can be prosecuted, a trial could be rescheduled in about two months, still before the 2024 election, in which Trump is the runaway front-runner for the GOP nomination.

It takes the votes of just four of nine justices to accept an appeal. In postponing Trump’s underlying criminal case, the court made clear it was not expressing a view on the merits of Trump’s argument and did not announce any vote on his initial request for a stay (which would require five votes), instead declaring it moot.

A lower court had already ordered that the case remain frozen if the Supreme Court took up the appeal until it was finally decided. All opinions are typically handed down by the last day of the court’s term in late June or early July before it recesses for the summer.

The 45-page, four-count indictment says Trump attempted to use knowingly false claims of massive fraud to get state officials to act to change voting results, threatened the Justice Department’s leaders to open sham investigations alleging election crimes, tried to submit fraudulent slates of electors from crucial swing states to obstruct Congress’s certification proceeding, and pressured his vice president, Mike Pence, to use his ceremonial role overseeing the proceeding to overturn the results.

Trump denies election interference accusations and maintains that President Biden and the Justice Department are interfering with the 2024 election by targeting him.