Jack Smith asks Supreme Court to rule on Trump immunity claims

 December 12, 2023

Special Prosecutor Jack Smith filed on Monday to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on whether former President Donald Trump can claim immunity in the 2020 election case against him, which would shutter the case. 

Smith's filing would bypass the appeals court, which would be the next step after Trump's lawyers filed to appeal Judge Tanya Chutkan's rejection of his claims.

Trump's arguments include claims of immunity because he was acting in an official capacity and that his acquittal during impeachment proceedings in Congress means the current prosecution constitutes double jeopardy.

"This case presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy: whether a former President is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office or is constitutionally protected from federal prosecution when he has been impeached but not convicted before the criminal proceedings begin," prosecutors wrote in Monday's filing.

Running out of time

The prosecution is running out of time to resolve this issue if the trial's timeline is going to remain intact.

Chutkan has set a date in March 2024 for the trial to begin, but a lengthy appeals process could cause delays and prevent the case from being decided before the 2024 election.

If there is a delay until after the election, and if Trump is elected, it could mean the end of this case and the others Trump faces.

Trump would have the opportunity to have the DOJ drop the charges in both federal cases, and two more state cases could be put on hold while he serves out his term.

What will the court do?

Smith clearly sees the appeal to the Supreme Court as a way to keep things on track, but will the court agree to make the ruling?

And if it does, will it agree with Smith that Trump does not have immunity and that double jeopardy does not apply?

Smith has already accused Trump of trying to delay the case "delay and disrupt" the trial schedule at "every opportunity."

This seems like a common legal tactic for many defendants, however.

Trump firmly believes that he is being prosecuted for political reasons, and that's unfair.

If he uses tactics to get out of it that others think are unfair, he's unlikely to care a bit about it.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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