Special counsel Jack Smith urges swift Supreme Court decision in reply to Trump

Special Counsel Jack Smith has filed his reply to former President Trump’s team’s response to his initial filing at the Supreme Court.

Smith is pressing to expedite the consideration of Trump’s immunity claims, hoping to keep the March trial date he set. Trump’s team opposes the fast track.

This now means the Supreme Court has all the materials it requested and could make a decision on this at any time.

A decision at this point would only be on whether the Court will expedite their ruling on this particular issue – not on the merits of the case at this stage. 

“This case involves—for the first time in our Nation’s history—criminal charges against a former President based on his actions while in office,” Smith wrote in the filing. “And not just any actions: alleged acts to perpetuate himself in power by frustrating the constitutionally prescribed process for certifying the lawful winner of an election. The Nation has a compelling interest in a decision on respondent’s claim of immunity from these charges—and if they are to be tried, a resolution by conviction or acquittal, without undue delay.”

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This comes after Trump’s attorneys urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to stand down from a dispute over whether he can be prosecuted on charges he plotted to overturn the 2020 election results. Smith’s team last week urged the nation’s high court to take up and quickly consider Trump’s claims that he enjoys immunity from prosecution as a former president. 

The unusual request for a speedy ruling seemed designed to prevent any delays that could postpone the trial of the 2024 Republican presidential primary front-runner until after the election. However, Trump’s lawyers told the Supreme Court that there was no reason for them to take up the matter now, especially because a lower appeals court in Washington is already considering the same question and has scheduled arguments for Jan. 9.

“Importance does not automatically necessitate speed. If anything, the opposite is usually true. Novel, complex, sensitive, and historic issues — such as the existence of presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts — call for more careful deliberation, not less,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

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It is far from certain that the Supreme Court will decide now to take up Trump’s immunity claims in the election interference case, which were rejected by the trial court judge in a ruling that declared the office of the president “does not confer a lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass.” Smith is asking the Supreme Court to bypass the federal appeals court in Washington, which has expedited its own review of the decision. So the Supreme Court may wait to get involved until after the appeals court judges hear the case.

Separately, Trump’s lawyers plan to ask the Supreme Court to overturn a decision in another case barring him from Colorado’s ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits anyone who swore an oath to support the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” against it from holding office. 

The Colorado Supreme Court’s 4-3 ruling is the first time in history the provision has been used to try to prohibit someone from running for the presidency.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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