The U.S. Supreme Court Friday refused to fast-track a decision on former President Donald Trump’s claim of blanket immunity, a ruling that will likely delay the scheduled March 3 start of his federal election interference trial.
In a one-sentence order that gave no further details, the nation’s top court rejected Special Counsel Jack Smith’s request that it take up the Trump appeal immediately.
The appeal will instead go to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has agreed to expedite consideration and has set a hearing for Jan. 9.
Even if the appeals court acts at lightning speed, Trump could appeal the decision to the Supreme Court at that time, likely forcing a delay to the election interference trial.
The appeal centers around Trump’s claim that he is immune from criminal prosecution for all actions he took during his time in the White House including his alleged effort to overturn his defeat to President Biden in the 2020 election.
District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled against Trump, noting that American presidents “are not kings.”
Trump also claimed he was covered by the double jeopardy rule because he escaped conviction during his Senate impeachment trial, a claim that most legal experts give little weight.
Smith had pressed the Supreme Court to intervene, citing significant public interest in a speedy resolution to the case.
The request to leapfrog the appeals court, which Smith himself acknowledged was “extraordinary,” underscored prosecutors’ desire to resolve Trump’s trial before next year’s presidential election.
If the case is significantly delayed, it could lead to Trump facing his first criminal trial in the Manhattan case tied to hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels.
The hush money trial is still set for trial on March 25 before Judge Juan Marchan.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has said he would consider moving the trial date back to accommodate federal trials of Trump.
But it could proceed on schedule if Chutkan is forced to delay the election interference case.
Trump has sought time and time again to delay his criminal cases until after the election in which he is the likely Republican nominee against Biden.
If Trump won a fresh term, he could likely order federal prosecutors to drop the election interference case and a separate case charging him with mishandling classified documents. That case, presided over by District Court Judge Aileen Cannon.
He also faces a Georgia state racketeering case that accuses him and more than a dozen acolytes of trying to steal the election in the Peach State and elsewhere.
Prosecutors hope to start that case in Aug. 5 but it could be pushed back if the federal cases get rescheduled.
Trump’s lawyers have told the judge in the Georgia case that he would seek to put off any trial until after the election and until he is no longer in office if he were to win reelection.