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Trump Misses Deadline To Appeal Civil Immunity Claims At SCOTUS

Former President Donald Trump missed a deadline to seek the Supreme Court’s review of claims that he is immune from civil lawsuits over the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

In addition to his criminal proceedings brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith, Trump has faced three civil lawsuits brought by U.S. Capitol Police officers for tort claims of physical injury and emotional distress and from members of Congress for disrupting their official duties, all of which have been consolidated in the case “Blassingame v. Trump.” In that case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Dec. 1, 2023, rejected Trump’s claim that he is immune from civil lawsuits for actions while he was president, with Trump not seeking the Supreme Court’s review of the case after missing the deadline to do so on Thursday.

“When a first-term President opts to seek a second term, his campaign to win re-election is not an official presidential act,” wrote Chief Judge Padmanabhan Srikanth Srinivasan of the D.C. Circuit, an appointee of President Barack Obama, for a unanimous three-judge panel on Dec. 1. “The Office of the Presidency as an institution is agnostic about who will occupy it next. And campaigning to gain that office is not an official act of the office,” the court added, concluding that unofficial acts by Trump while in office are not immune from civil suit.

Blassingame v. Trump, No. 22-5069 (D.C. Cir., Dec. 1, 2023) by Daily Caller News Foundation on Scribd

The Supreme Court’s rules ordinarily require that petitions for certiorari be filed within 90 days of a judgment from a lower court.

However, Trump will not be precluded from bringing the same claim, again, given that discovery in the cases has not yet been completed to ascertain all relevant findings of fact, according to the court.

“When these cases move forward in the district court, he must be afforded the opportunity to develop his own facts on the immunity question … At the appropriate time, he can move for summary judgment on his claim of official-act immunity,” Srinivasan wrote for the D.C. Circuit.

The case’s lead plaintiffs, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, are officers of the U.S. Capitol Police who were injured during the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021. “A forceful surge of insurrectionists pushed forward and slammed Officer Blassingame against a stone column. He struck his spine and the back of his head and was unable to move,” the complaint noted, adding that “[f]or the first time in his life, people were yelling into his face, calling him a ‘nigger’ repeatedly and throughout the attack in the Crypt. He lost count of the many times the racial slur was hurled at him.”

“Officer Hemby is under the care of an orthopedic medical specialist and receives physical therapy two to three days per week for his neck and back,” the complaint noted about the other plaintiff.

The other two complaints were filed by Democratic Reps. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the former chairman of the House’s select committee to investigate the events, and Eric Swalwell of California, respectively. They allege that Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and claims of a  “stolen” election violate the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which authorizes damages for preventing a member of Congress from discharging their official duties.

The next hearing in the case has not been scheduled. Trump is currently facing multiple criminal and civil legal proceedings in several U.S. jurisdictions and is the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Arjun Singh

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Arjun Singh
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