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Supreme Court Refuses Expedited Ruling on Trump’s Criminal Immunity Claim, Defers to Lower Court

Date: [23/12/2023]

In a pivotal development, the U.S. Supreme Court has opted not to immediately address former President Donald Trump’s assertion of immunity from prosecution over allegations of attempting to overturn the 2020 election results. The decision, made on Friday, allows a lower court to continue its thorough review of the matter, rejecting a bold request by U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith to expedite the final ruling.

The justices, in an unusual move, declined to bypass a lower appeals court, choosing not to fast-track a decision on Trump’s claim of criminal immunity just ahead of his scheduled trial in March. The Supreme Court’s brief one-page order, issued without elaboration, did not see any public dissents from the justices. However, it leaves open the possibility for the court to revisit the issue in the future.

While a federal appeals court in Washington has already expedited its consideration, with oral arguments scheduled for January 9, Trump’s legal team hailed the Supreme Court decision as a victory. In a statement to supporters, Trump acknowledged the triumph but noted, “I will still have to fight for my rights in the Appeals Court.”

Prosecutors allege that Trump, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, sought to obstruct Congress and defraud the U.S. government in efforts to reverse President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. Trump contends that the case should be dismissed, arguing that former presidents are shielded from criminal charges related to their official duties.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected Trump’s immunity claim on December 1, prompting his appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Trump’s appeal has temporarily suspended his trial, initially set for March.

In a bid to avoid further delays, Special Counsel Jack Smith urged the Supreme Court on December 11 to expedite a ruling, even as the D.C. Circuit court works swiftly on the matter. If Trump secures a second term on November 5, he could potentially seek a self-pardon for any federal crimes.

Trump’s legal team opposed Smith’s request, deeming it a “rush to decide the issues with reckless abandon.” Notably, three of the nine Supreme Court justices were appointed by Trump, solidifying a 6-3 conservative majority that could significantly impact the final outcome of this high-stakes legal battle. As the lower court proceedings unfold, the nation remains on edge, awaiting the resolution of this complex and politically charged case. Stay tuned for further updates as events continue to unfold.

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