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Trump’s Fate in the Balance: Supreme Court to Decide on Immunity

Trump's Fate in the Balance: Supreme Court to Decide on Immunity

The Wall Street- Monday’s likely verdict, before the Supreme Court’s summer recess, may bring further drama to the presidential campaign.

Washington – On Monday, the Supreme Court will rule on whether Donald Trump must go on trial for allegedly attempting to rig the 2020 election, which he lost to President Biden. This is a momentous decision that the justices have never had to make before since it involves political, legal, and historical implications.

The decision made on Monday could once more reset the race, possibly sending the presumed Republican nominee to spend weeks before Election Day in a federal courthouse—or leaving Trump’s fate up to the Electoral College.

Supreme Court Decision

The decision comes days after a belligerent Trump confronted a sometimes-addled Biden at a candidate debate many considered a watershed of the 2024 campaign.

The court has already heard instances involving acrimonious claims of presidential immunity and hotly fought elections. The Florida presidential election recount was stopped by a 5-4 court judgment in December 2000, giving Republican George W. Bush—who was ahead of Democrat Al Gore by 537 votes—the presidency.

President Richard Nixon was unanimously ordered by the court to turn over White House tapes in response to a subpoena issued by the Watergate special prosecutor in July 1974.

Though the Watergate case involved a president forbidden from competing for office after serving a second term, and Bush v. Gore dealt with state election procedures, the ruling in Trump v. U.S. on Monday included both: an impending presidential election and the use of executive privileges from a prior government.

The court has already granted Trump victories in two disputes that sprang from his supporters’ assault on the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to prevent Congress from accrediting Biden’s win.

Federal prosecutors have filed an obstruction case against both Trump and the Jan. 6 rioters the judge limited the charge’s scope on Friday.

The court determined that the offense did not include obstructing a congressional meeting but rather was restricted to interfering with documents and other items needed for an official action. Lower courts will have to determine how the opinion affects the prosecutions scheduled for January 6.

This came after the court’s ruling in March to reinstate Trump’s eligibility for the Colorado ballot, which came after the Republican nominee was disqualified by the state’s top court for violating a constitutional clause that prevents previous public servants who participated in insurrection or revolt from holding office again.

According to the Supreme Court states are not allowed to employ the Reconstruction-era clause as a legal defense against federal candidates.

The ruling on Monday is certain to skew opinions about Trump’s possible criminality, but it will also undoubtedly impact the public’s view of the court.

On the nine-member court which is composed of three Trump appointees, their votes have solidified historic victories for long-sought conservative objectives.

These victories include the 2022 decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and the ruling on Friday that reversed a Reagan-era precedent that required judges to give judicial deference to executive branch agencies when the law is unclear.

However, no case to far has directly placed Trump’s personal interests in the hands of the justices he nominated, from whom he has anticipated a benevolent hearing.

Additionally, two additional justices are related to Trump and his cause:Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, encouraged White House officials to intervene so that Biden cannot take office; Justice Samuel Alito’s wife, Martha-Ann Alito, flew flags at the couple’s homes like those carried by Jan. 6 rioters, the justice has said.

A 1981 Supreme Court ruling declared that previous presidents cannot be sued by private parties for their official activities while in office, and a Justice Department policy prohibits sitting presidents from being punished for breaking the law.

Trump, who categorically denies any wrongdoing, contended that he should be immune from prosecution for whatever crimes he may have committed while serving as president.

Trump temporarily ruined the show of a federal court trial by pushing the immunity defense. A trial that was set to start on March 4 had to be postponed when the appeal stopped the prosecution. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan was forced to make this decision.

Trump’s attorneys contended before the Supreme Court that presidents would be prevented from acting courageously in the benefit of the country if they were not granted immunity for their official actions.

This would be because they would be afraid that actions could be viewed as crimes by succeeding administrations. The special counsel argued that internal Justice Department safeguards and the independent check on prosecutorial abuse provided by federal courts and grand juries meant that such concerns were unfounded.

For support, both parties cited the novel aspects of the Trump prosecution: the former president contended that Smith had violated the custom of not prosecuting former presidents for crimes.

In response, the special counsel argued that no president who had previously lost reelection had breached the law to obstruct the handover of power.

The charges against Trump, handed up by a federal grand jury in August 2023, include using dishonesty and fraud to obstruct the electoral process and conspiring to deny citizens’ rights to have their votes counted.

Chutkan rejected Trump’s immunity claim in December, a decision upheld in February by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. From the start, however, Trump’s attorneys placed hope in the Supreme Court.

Trump’s team contended that the most serious allegations he faces, including pressuring state officials and Vice President Mike Pence to participate in the scheme to retain power, should be classified as official actions beyond the reach of the law.

The conservative majority of the court’s justices addressed little about the accusations against Trump at oral arguments in April. The discussion instead concentrated on the hypothetical threats that dishonest prosecutors could pose to upcoming presidents by accusing a former president of political wrongdoings masquerading as crimes.

If Trump wins in November, he will be able to return to the White House and either order the federal charges against him to be dropped or try to get a pardon for past crimes. This will put an end to the Washington case as well as a separate Florida lawsuit filed by Smith which claimed Trump had stolen national security documents from the White House when he was leaving office in 2021 and had refused to turn them over when asked by federal officials.

In addition, state investigations against Trump may be suspended due to the supremacy of the Constitution. federal law over those enforced by the states.

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Source

wsj.com

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