Special Counsel Jack Smith’s request for the Supreme Court to weigh in on former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election case is likely another effort to ensure the trial takes place before the 2024 presidential election, legal experts said Monday.
Just Thursday, Trump provided notice that he would appeal District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s rejection of his bid to dismiss his case based on presidential immunity. Smith responded Monday by appealing directly to the Supreme Court — a decision legal experts said was aimed to preserve the former president’s March 4 trial date, which is already on an accelerated schedule.
“The only reason for this petition is to seek to guarantee a trial of Trump (and possible conviction) before the election,” George Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley wrote Monday.
“The matter is currently before the D.C. Circuit which is viewed as a favorable court for Smith,” he continued. “However, Smith is trying to avoid any delay in the March trial date, set to begin the day before Super Tuesday.”
Chutkan set jury selection to begin on Feb. 9.
Turley noted the Supreme Court “may not view a trial of Trump during the campaign to be as motivating or urgent as does Smith.”
Mike Davis, Founder and President of the Article III Project, noted there is “no reason Jack Smith’s DC trial can’t wait until after the election,” calling it “blatant election interference.”
“This is a legal Hail Mary by Jack Smith,” he tweeted. “He’s desperate to keep an unreasonably (unconstitutionally) expedited March trial date.”
Biden Special Counsel Jack Smith made an extraordinary request:
He asked the Supreme Court to bypass the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, skip the normal Supreme
Court briefing and argument timelines, and immediately decide whether Trump enjoys presidential immunity.
This is a… pic.twitter.com/5HQSdOwUhM
— 🇺🇸 Mike Davis 🇺🇸 (@mrddmia) December 11, 2023
The government filed its petition before the D.C. Circuit reached a decision to ensure Trump’s case could be “briefed, argued, and decided” by the Supreme Court before the end of its 2023-2024 term, Smith wrote in the petition. In his separate request to expedite the appeal, Smith asked that Trump’s lawyers be required to respond by Dec. 18 — next week.
With briefing from both parties, the Supreme Court could decide whether to take the case during its conference on Jan. 5 and resolve the issue before the summer, John Elwood, head of Arnold & Porter’s Appellate and Supreme Court practice, noted.
When Trump appealed Chutkan’s ruling to the D.C. Circuit, he also asked Chutkan to freeze all further proceedings in the case until his appeal was decided.
Smith opposed this request in a filing on Sunday that said the court should maintain its March 4 trial date.
“During the pendency of the appeal, any number of matters could arise in this case that are not involved in the appeal; the Court should not enter an order preventing it from handling them,” Smith wrote.
“To help ensure that trial proceeds promptly if the Court’s order is affirmed, during the pendency of the defendant’s appeal, the Government will meet every pretrial deadline the Court has set for it,” the filing continued. “Then, as soon as the mandate returns, the Court can promptly resolve any remaining issues and start trial.”
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