Supreme Court Orders Special Counsel To Respond To Trump Immunity Appeal

US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has ordered the Department of Justice to respond to former President Trump's claim that he has presidential immunity in his ongoing Jan. 6 election case in Washington D.C.

The move comes after the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit rejected Trump's attempt to overturn Judge Tanya Chutkan's refusal to dismiss the case based on Trump's immunity claim - and less than a week after the Supreme Court heard Trump's appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, which ruled that he was disqualified from appearing on the state's ballot.

Roberts gave Special Counsel Jack Smith until Feb. 20 to respond, pointing to a broader urgency for the Court to address relatively untested legal issues that could have a significant impact on the 2024 presidential election.

"[A] panel of the D.C. Circuit has, in an extraordinarily fast manner, issued a decision on President Trump’s claim of immunity and ordered the mandate returned to the district court to proceed with President Trump’s criminal trial in four business days, unless this Court intervenes (as it should)," reads Trump's Feb. 12 filing, requesting that the appellate court's decision be stayed.

Jack Smith, meanwhile, has asked the Supreme Court to skip appellate proceedings and fast-track the case, claiming that "only" the Supreme Court could "definitively resolve" the immunity claims, The Epoch Times reports.

President Trump is asking for the Supreme Court to halt the appellate decision because it incorrectly ruled that presidential immunity didn’t apply to Mr. Smith’s prosecution of him.

His attorney, D. John Sauer, had argued in January that the Constitution required presidents first face impeachment and trial by Congress before they could be criminally prosecuted within Article III courts. A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit unanimously rejected his arguments, stating that” ‘[c]oncerns of public policy, especially as illuminated by our history and the structure of our government’ compel the rejection of his claim of immunity in this case.”

The judges also ruled that “any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution.”

The issue of presidential immunity is a relatively untested area of law - however in 1982, the Supreme Court held in Nixon vs. Fitzgerald that the president has "absolute immunity" from civil liability which extends to the "outer perimeter" of his official duties.

The appellate court, however, held that Trump exceeded these bounds.

"Former President Trump’s claimed immunity would have us extend the framework for Presidential civil immunity to criminal cases and decide for the first time that a former President is categorically immune from federal criminal prosecution for any act conceivably within the outer perimeter of his executive responsibility," reads the lower court's opinion.

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