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Supreme Court to Rule on Trump's Immunity From Prosecution: Live Updates - The New York Times

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  jbb  •  2 weeks ago  •  0 comments

By:   nytimes

Supreme Court to Rule on Trump's Immunity From Prosecution: Live Updates - The New York Times
The practical effect of the ruling raises the possibility of further delay of the case against the former president on charges of plotting to subvert the 2020 election.

Trump Not Immune For January 6th or Big Lie!


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


The practical effect of the ruling raises the possibility of further delay of the case against the former president on charges of plotting to subvert the 2020 election.

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Image00scotus-trump-immunity-live-blog-header-articleLarge.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale Crowds gathering near the White House to hear President Trump speak hours before the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Credit...Pete Marovich for The New York Times Pinnedauthor-adam-liptak-thumbLarge-v4.png?quality=75&auto=webp Updated July 1, 2024, 10:37 a.m. ETJuly 1, 2024, 10:37 a.m. ET

Adam Liptak

Reporting on the Supreme Court since 2008

Here's the latest on the ruling.


The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that former President Donald J. Trump is entitled to some level of immunity from prosecution, a decision that may effectively delay the trial of the case against him on charges of plotting to subvert the 2020 election.

The vote was 6 to 3, dividing along partisan lines.

Mr. Trump contended that he is entitled to absolute immunity from the charges, relying on a broad understanding of the separation of powers and a 1982 Supreme Court precedent that recognized such immunity in civil cases for actions taken by presidents within the "outer perimeter" of their official responsibilities. Lower courts rejected Mr. Trump's claim, but the Supreme Court's ruling may delay the case enough that Mr. Trump would be able to make it go away entirely if he prevails in November.

Here's what to know:

  • The charges: The former president faces three charges of conspiracy and one count of obstructing an official proceeding, all related to his efforts to cling to the presidency after his 2020 loss. He was indicted last August by the special counsel, Jack Smith, in one of two federal criminal cases against him; the other relates to the F.B.I. raid on his private club, Mar-a-Lago, in August 2022 that recovered missing government documents.

  • Lower courts ruled against Trump: The trial judge, Tanya S. Chutkan of the Federal District Court in Washington, denied Mr. Trump's immunity request in December. "Whatever immunities a sitting president may enjoy, the United States has only one chief executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong 'get-out-of-jail-free' pass," she wrote.

    A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed in February, saying that "any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him against this prosecution."

  • The timing: Even before the ruling, the court's decision to take up the case already helped Mr. Trump's strategy to delay his prosecution until after the November election in the hopes he will win and be able to stop it entirely.

  • Other Jan. 6 cases: The court heard two other cases this term concerning the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, both of which relate to Mr. Trump. One — an attempt to bar Mr. Trump from the ballot in Colorado under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which made people who engages in insurrection ineligible to hold office — was unanimously rejected in March.The other limited the use of a federal obstruction law to prosecute members of the mob who stormed the Capitol. Two of the four charges against Mr. Trump are based on that law.

Show moreauthor-charlie-savage-thumbLarge-v2.png?quality=75&auto=webp July 1, 2024, 10:33 a.m. ETJuly 1, 2024, 10:33 a.m. ET

Charlie Savage

The Supreme Court has ruled 6 to 3 that former presidents have some immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts in office.

author-adam-liptak-thumbLarge-v4.png?quality=75&auto=webp July 1, 2024, 10:00 a.m. ETJuly 1, 2024, 10:00 a.m. ET

Adam Liptak

Reporting on the Supreme Court since 2008

Although the court has provided live audio of arguments since the pandemic, it does not do the same for opinion announcements.Audio of announcements is usually made public around the beginning of the court's next term, in October.

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Adam Liptak

Reporting on the Supreme Court since 2008

The majority opinion in the immunity decision will probably be written by Chief Justice Roberts. He is the most senior member of the court, meaning that decision will probably come last.

author-alan-feuer-thumbLarge.png?quality=75&auto=webp July 1, 2024, 9:55 a.m. ETJuly 1, 2024, 9:55 a.m. ET

Alan Feuer

News Analysis

In taking up Trump's immunity claim, the Supreme Court bolstered his delay strategy.


ImageFormer President Donald Trump campaigning in Wildwood, N.J.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

The Supreme Court tossed former President Donald J. Trump a legal lifeline months ago by making its original choice to hear his immunity claims, a move that substantially aided Mr. Trump's efforts to delay his federal trial on charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 election.

By deciding to take up Mr. Trump's argument that presidents enjoy almost total immunity from prosecution for official actions taken while in office — a legal theory rejected by two lower courts — the justices bought the former president several months before a trial on the election interference charges can start.

There is now only a slender possibility that Mr. Trump could still face a jury in the case, in Federal District Court in Washington, before Election Day.

Given the Supreme Court's leisurely pace in issuing its decision and the amount of legal business left to conduct in the trial court, the odds are steep that voters will not get a chance to hear the evidence that Mr. Trump sought to subvert the last election before they decide whether to back him in the current one.

If Mr. Trump is successful in delaying the trial until after Election Day and he wins, he could use the powers of his office to seek to dismiss the election interference indictment altogether. Moreover, Justice Department policy precludes prosecuting a sitting president, meaning that, once sworn in, he could most likely have any federal trial he is facing postponed until after he left office.

Show moreauthor-adam-liptak-thumbLarge-v4.png?quality=75&auto=webp July 1, 2024, 9:54 a.m. ETJuly 1, 2024, 9:54 a.m. ET

Adam Liptak

Reporting on the Supreme Court since 2008

The Supreme Court will announce decisions, starting at 10 a.m., one at a time. The most junior justice who wrote a majority opinion will go first, summarizing it from the bench. As he or she starts, reporters in the press room will be handed paper copies, and the court will post the decision on its website. The next decision is made public when the next justice, in reverse order of seniority, starts to read. And so on. Those oral summaries can take some time, particularly if they are accompanied by oral dissents. All of this can take half an hour or more.

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Adam Liptak

Reporting on the Supreme Court since 2008

Here's what the court has previously said about presidential immunity.


ImageThe Supreme Court has taken cases involving Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and Donald J. Trump.Credit...Tierney L. Cross for The New York Times

The Supreme Court had never addressed the scope of a former president's immunity from prosecution for official actions while in office. But it had taken up related questions.

The court's precedents — in cases involving Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and Donald J. Trump — have pointed in both directions.

Nixon v. Fitzgerald: Presidents have absolute immunity from civil damages suits within the 'outer perimeter' of their official duties.


In 1982, in Nixon v. Fitzgerald, the Supreme Court ruled that former President Richard M. Nixon had absolute immunity from civil lawsuits — cases brought by private litigants seeking money — for conduct "within the 'outer perimeter' of his official responsibility."

The ruling establishes that immunity can be expansive, lives on after a president leaves office and extends to the very limits of what may be said to be official conduct. But it concerns a civil suit, not a criminal prosecution.

The 1982 case arose from a lawsuit brought by an Air Force analyst, A. Ernest Fitzgerald, who said he was fired in 1970 in retaliation for his criticism of cost overruns. By the time the Supreme Court acted, Nixon had been out of office for several years.

"In view of the special nature of the president's constitutional office and functions," Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. wrote for the majority 5-to-4 decision, "we think it appropriate to recognize absolute presidential immunity from damages liability" for Nixon's official conduct, broadly defined.

But the decision drew a sharp line between civil suits, which it said can be abusive and harassing, and criminal prosecutions like the one against Mr. Trump.

Chief Justice Warren E. Burger underscored the point in a concurring opinion. "The immunity is limited to civil damages claims," he wrote.

United States v. Nixon: Presidents do not have absolute executive privilege.


This case concerned access to information rather than immunity from prosecution, but it has been widely understood to have rejected claims that ordinary legal principles do not apply to the president.

In 1974, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Mr. Nixon, then still in office, had to comply with a trial subpoena seeking tapes of his conversations in the Oval Office, rejecting claims of executive privilege.

James Pearce, one of the prosecutors on the team assembled by Jack Smith, the special counsel, invoked the United States v. Nixon case to draw a distinction during an appeals court hearing. The Supreme Court, he said, gave Nixon special treatment — to a point — by not requiring him to be held in contempt before he could appeal a trial judge's order that he turn over the tapes.

But that was as far as the justices would go to accommodate the president, Mr. Pearce said, as the court "of course rejected President Nixon's absolute executive privilege claim."

That decision led to Nixon's resignation in the face of mounting calls for his impeachment.

Trump v. Vance: Even presidents must produce evidence for a criminal inquiry.


The Supreme Court invoked the principle that no one is above the law in 2020, ruling by a 7-to-2 margin in Trump v. Vance that Mr. Trump had no absolute right to block the release of his financial records in a criminal investigation.

"No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding," Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority.

Clinton v. Jones: The president does not have immunity for private actions taken before his election.


In Clinton v. Jones in 1997, the Supreme Court unanimously allowed a sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton to proceed while he was in office, discounting concerns that it would distract him from his official responsibilities. Both of his appointees, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, voted against him.

"The president is subject to judicial process in appropriate circumstances," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court, adding, "We have never suggested that the president, or any other official, has an immunity that extends beyond the scope of any action taken in an official capacity."

The case was in one sense harder than the current one against Mr. Trump, as it involved a sitting president. In another sense, though, it was easier, as it concerned an episode said to have taken place before Mr. Clinton took office (Paula Jones, an Arkansas state employee, said Mr. Clinton had made lewd advances in a hotel room when he was governor of the state).

Show moreauthor-abbie-vansickle-thumbLarge.png?quality=75&auto=webp amir-hamja-thumbLarge.png?quality=75&auto=webp July 1, 2024, 9:45 a.m. ETJuly 1, 2024, 9:45 a.m. ET

Abbie VanSickle and Amir Hamja

Here's a look inside the Supreme Court.


Video24-SUPREME-COURT-HP-PROMO-COVER-superJumbo.png CreditCredit...Amir Hamja/The New York Times

The Supreme Court conducts its work largely out of public view, letting its opinions stand as one of the most visible markers of the justices' rigorous debates on all aspects of American life.

The justices typically take the bench to announce their decisions after presiding over arguments that have touched on some of the thorniest topics in the country: guns, abortion and the scope of presidential power.

No cameras are allowed. The New York Times received rare access to capture the courtroom during a momentous term.

The justices enter the courtroom together through the heavy red velvet curtains behind the bench. Courtroom sessions, which begin each year on the first Monday of October, include oral arguments, admission of new members to the bar and, later in the term, the announcement of decisions.

The nine justices sit behind a mahogany, wing-shaped bench, their spots designated according to seniority. The most junior justices sit on either end, with the chief justice occupying the center chair. The seating chart shifts when a justice leaves the court and a new one joins.

All the chairs match. The justices initially brought their own, but Chief Justice Warren E. Burger thought it looked "untidy" and ordered uniform chairs tailored to each new justice. Originally, the bench was straight across the front of the courtroom. However, the justices had trouble seeing and hearing one another and, in the early 1970s, it was angled.

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