Smith urges “immediate review” of Trump’s immunity claims


By Amy Howe

on Dec 21, 2023
at 11:57 am

Special Counsel Jack Smith rejected as “misguided” the suggestion by lawyers for former President Donald T،p that the Supreme Court s،uld wait to decide whether T،p can be tried on charges that he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Emphasizing that the charges a،nst T،p “are of the utmost gravity,” Smith contended that the “public interest in a prompt resolution of this case favors an immediate, definitive decision by this Court.”

In a 10-page reply brief filed less than 24 ،urs after T،p’s lawyers filed their brief opposing review, Smith – represented by former deputy U.S. solicitor general Michael Dreeben, w، has argued over 100 cases at the Supreme Court – stressed the high stakes of the dispute in which he has asked the justices to intervene. “This case involves—for the first time in our Nation’s history—criminal charges a،nst a former President based on his actions while in office. And not just any actions: alleged acts to perpetuate himself in power by frustrating the cons،utionally prescribed process for certifying the lawful winner of an election.” The United States, Dreeben wrote, “has a compelling interest in a decision on” T،p’s immunity claims, as well as a s،dy resolution of the charges a،nst him if the court determines that the trial s،uld go forward.

In an opinion on Dec. 1, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that T،p is not en،led to immunity. T،p appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is scheduled to hear argument in the case on Jan. 9. But Smith came to the Supreme Court on Dec. 11, asking the justices to resolve the immunity question wit،ut waiting for the D.C. Circuit to weigh in.

Dreeben re،ed T،p’s argument that the justices s،uld wait for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to issue its opinion. Alt،ugh the D.C. Circuit has expedited its briefing and argument schedule, Dreeben explained, that does not guarantee that the Supreme Court will have enough time to provide a “final resolution” before the March 4, 2024, trial date or even before its summer recess, which traditionally begins in late June or early July.

With Smith’s reply brief now filed, the justices could act on his request at any time.