The US Supreme Court said Friday it will not immediately take up a request from special counsel Jack Smith to rule on whether former President Donald Trump can be prosecuted for his actions to overturn the results of his 2020 election defeat.
The justices, rebuffing an extraordinary request by US special counsel Jack Smith, refused to effectively leapfrog a lower appeals court to speed up a final ruling on Trump’s claims of immunity ahead of his trial, due to begin in March.
The court issued its decision in a brief one-page order without any further explanation. No justice publicly dissented. The issue will now be decided by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which has signaled it will act quickly to decide the case.
Trump celebrates victory
The decision is a scheduling victory for Trump and his lawyers, who have repeatedly sought to delay a criminal case against him as he campaigns to reclaim the White House in 2024.
It averts a swift ruling from the nation’s highest court that could have definitively rejected his claims of immunity, and further casts doubt on the possibility of the landmark trial proceeding as scheduled on March 4.
In a statement to supporters, Trump labeled the Supreme Court decision as a victory but added “I will still have to fight for my rights in the Appeals Court.”
What are the charges against Trump?
Prosecutors have accused Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, of attempting to obstruct Congress and defraud the US government through schemes to reverse the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
Trump has argued that the case should be dismissed on the grounds that former presidents cannot face criminal charges for conduct related to their official responsibilities.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected that claim on December 1, prompting Trump’s appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Trump’s appeal suspended his trial, currently set for March.
In a bid to avoid delaying Trump’s trial, Smith on December 11 urged the Supreme Court to undertake an expedited ruling.
dh/sri (AP, Reuters)
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