US Supreme Court rejects Jack Smith's request to fast-track Donald Trump's immunity case

World Saturday 23/December/2023 08:26 AM
US Supreme Court rejects Jack Smith's request to fast-track Donald Trump's immunity case

Washington, DC: The US Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request by special counsel Jack Smith to fast-track arguments on whether Donald Trump has any immunity from federal prosecution for alleged crimes he committed while in office, CNN reported.

The court did not explain its reasoning and there were no noted dissents.

The court's decision comes as a major blow to Smith, who made an extraordinary gamble when he asked the justices to take the rare step of skipping a federal appeals court and quickly deciding a fundamental issue in his election subversion criminal case against Trump.

As per CNN, both sides will still have the option of appealing an eventual ruling by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals up to the high court, but the court's move is a major victory for Trump, whose strategy of delay in the criminal case included mounting a protracted fight over the immunity question, which must be settled before his case goes to trial.

An expedited review of the issue is already underway at the DC Circuit, which has scheduled oral arguments for January 9. The election subversion trial is currently set to begin in March.

According to CNN, Professor at the University of Texas School of Law Steve Vladeck said: "The real question is what happens then. Assuming the court of appeals rejects Trump's claim, will it keep the trial on hold pending further review from the Supreme Court, or will it allow the trial to go forward and force Trump to seek a stay from the Supreme Court? It's still possible that the trial begins on March 4, but the Supreme Court's apparent willingness to let the D.C. Circuit go first makes it at least somewhat - and perhaps significantly - less likely."

In urging the court to not take the case, Trump's attorneys argued the special counsel was trying to "rush to decide the issues with reckless abandon."

"The fact that this case arises in the vortex of political dispute warrants caution, not haste," Trump attorneys wrote in court papers.

Earlier this month, Trump's team had asked the appeals court to examine the immunity ruling issued by District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing his criminal case.

Chutkan had rejected arguments from Trump's attorneys that the criminal indictment should be thrown out because he was working to "ensure election integrity" as part of his official capacity as president when he allegedly undermined the 2020 election results, and therefore is protected under presidential immunity. The judge has paused all procedural deadlines in the case while the appeal plays out.
But Smith's team sought to bypass the appeals court's review of the matter by having the justices step in now.

Smith's team wrote in their petition to the Supreme Court: "It is of imperative public importance that respondent's claims of immunity be resolved by this Court and that respondent's trial proceed as promptly as possible if his claim of immunity is rejected,"

Smith pointed to a Watergate-era case in which the high court also leapfrogged over an appeals court to quickly hear a case in which the justices ultimately rejected then-President Richard Nixon's claims of presidential privilege in a subpoena fight over Oval Office tapes, as per CNN.