Sunday, June 30, 2024

SCOTUS decision expected tomorrow on presidential immunity

 The Supreme Court is set to rule tomorrow whether former President Trump has immunity from criminal prosecution, a monumental decision that comes just days after the court dropped a decision throwing into doubt charges against hundreds of Jan. 6 rioters and Trump himself, reported The Hill.

The stakes are as high as Trump’s ask of the court is broad. The former president is pleading with the court to toss his federal Jan. 6 case with his claims of immunity.

While the court could well reject the sweeping immunity sought by Trump, several justices signaled an openness during April arguments to carving out some form of protection from criminal prosecutions for former executives. 

“The question becomes — as we’ve been exploring here today, a little bit — about how to segregate private from official conduct that may or may not enjoy some immunity,” Justice Neil Gorsuch, one of the court’s six conservatives, said in April.

The immunity decision comes on the heels of another Jan. 6-related case decided Friday that narrowed the use of the obstruction of an official proceeding charge levied against many of those who stormed the Capitol. 

“Big News!” Trump wrote on Truth Social reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision.

It also follows Thursday’s presidential debate, where a shaky performance by President Biden left some Democrats more worried than ever that Trump would win the election in November and earn another four years at the White House.

The Supreme Court typically concludes its summer decision-making by the end of June, but it is headed into overtime to directly weigh in on Trump’s case, mulling whether he is immune from the charges altogether.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced Friday that “all remaining” Supreme Court opinions will come down Monday beginning at 10 a.m. EDT. The immunity decision will drop along with decisions on three other cases that were heard.

The justices spent ample time in April questioning what actions would qualify as official ones a president might enjoy immunity for, compared to personal actions for which they would not. 

Trump’s legal team suggested during arguments that even a president ordering the assassination of his political rival could be protected from prosecution.

It seems unlikely the court will take the case to that logical extreme, but even a more nuanced ruling could hold benefits for Trump, who across all his criminal cases has embraced a strategy of seeking delay wherever possible.

The court might spell out a test for immunity that offers some protections for a former president, kicking the case back to the district court for Judge Tanya Chutkan to weigh whether Trump’s actions meet their criteria.

That could result in a lengthy battle where Chutkan determines Trump is still not immune from prosecution, facing appeal up to the high court yet again.

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