Supreme Court Set to Rule on Trump’s Presidential Immunity in High-Stakes Case


The Supreme Court is set to rule on whether former President Donald Trump can claim absolute immunity from his criminal indictments, a decision that could have significant implications for his legal battles.

The justices are expected to issue rulings on Thursday and Friday at 10 a.m. local time, with a decision on Trump’s immunity likely within the next few days. Trump, in a post on Truth Social, urged the justices to affirm his immunity, arguing that without it, future presidents could be hindered by the threat of prosecution.

The case, Trump v. United States, centers on whether Special Counsel Jack Smith’s indictment, related to Trump’s alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election, can proceed despite Trump’s claim of presidential immunity. Trump’s legal team argues that a president should be immune from prosecution for actions taken while in office, contending that any criminal charges should require a conviction through impeachment.

Smith, however, has argued that the framers of the Constitution never intended for former presidents to be immune from criminal prosecution. He highlights that past presidents have always understood they could face criminal liability after leaving office.

Lower courts have rejected Trump’s broad immunity claim. During oral arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, both appointed by Republican presidents, suggested that the Appeals Court might have misinterpreted the law. Roberts questioned why the court should not clarify the law or send it back to the appeals court.

Legal experts suggest that the Supreme Court might establish a new standard to distinguish between official and private conduct in cases involving former presidents. This could involve sending the case back to a lower court to determine whether Trump’s actions on January 6 were official or private. Former prosecutor Neama Rahmani and others believe the justices may ask Judge Tanya Chutkan to decide which actions are protected by immunity.

The court’s ruling may delay the trial, which was initially scheduled for March 4, allowing Trump more time to contest the charges before the 2024 election. The justices could also decide that Trump has no immunity at all, contrary to the lower courts’ findings. In August, Trump pleaded not guilty to charges of obstruction, conspiracy to defraud the nation, and conspiracy against voting rights.

Additionally, the Supreme Court will rule on Fischer v. United States, questioning whether the obstruction charges against Trump and other January 6 defendants were correctly applied. Decisions in both cases are expected by the end of the month.

Kaelan Deese
Kaelan Deese
Supreme Court reporter covering the latest happenings at the nation's highest court and the legal issues surrounding Second Amendment rights, abortion, and religious liberties. He previously wrote breaking news as a fellow for The Hill during the 2020 election cycle. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications program in 2019.

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