If the Supreme Court rules in favour of former President Donald Trump’s immunity claim, the federal election meddling case against him could be halted before it even begins. Special Counsel Jack Smith has asked the court to decide whether Trump is immune from criminal prosecution for alleged offences committed while in office, an unusual request that would ask the court to weigh in on a hitherto unheard-of prosecution of a former president.
District Judge Tanya Chutkan has previously determined that Trump is not exempt from prosecution, and Smith is requesting that the court take up the allegation without going via a federal appeals court and determining once and for all, in the hopes of keeping the trial on track for its March start date.
If the court does take up the issue at Smith’s request, there’s a risk it’ll agree with Trump and grant him immunity, thereby killing Smith’s chances of getting the case to trial at all. Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani agreed that if the Supreme Court rules that Trump has presidential immunity, Smith cannot charge the former president.
According to legal commentator Harry Litman, the Supreme Court might consider Smith’s motion in three ways: dismiss it, agree to take it up and decide against Trump, or agree to take it up and rule in favour of Trump. If the court opts for the third alternative and ultimately sides with Trump, “that’s the end of the case.”