Supreme Court Just Shook Up Trump’s 2024 Schedule

Catherine Yang
By Catherine Yang
February 29, 2024Judiciary
Supreme Court Just Shook Up Trump’s 2024 Schedule
The sun rises behind the Supreme Court in Washington, on June 10, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court agreed on Feb. 28 to hear a second case concerning former President Donald Trump, with far-reaching implications for his 2024 court schedule.

President Trump is facing four criminal indictments, the first of which will go to trial in less than a month, plus several other civil cases—all while campaigning for the presidency again with his eligibility still in question.

Already on the Supreme Court’s plate is whether President Trump can be disqualified as a candidate by individual states after the Colorado Supreme Court disqualified him for engaging in “insurrection” under a Civil War-era statute.

Experts say it’s no secret the prosecutors want a trial before the general election, and that President Trump all but avoids trial entirely if he wins reelection.

Scott Lemieux, a professor of political science at the University of Washington, told Business Insider that even if the High Court rejects the immunity defense, President Trump “fundamentally still wins because he manages to avoid a trial before the election.”

Andrew Weissmann, former FBI general counsel, told MSNBC there was “no way somebody like Jack Smith” isn’t “thinking through how to get this case through to trial before the general election.”

“I’m sure right now they’re preparing a motion so that as soon as the Supreme Court has made its decision they basically tell Judge Chutkan to please review this one-to-one.”

Late April Hearing Scheduled

The latest appeal the Supreme Court agreed to hear has to do with President Trump’s presidential immunity defense in one of two cases prosecuted by special counsel Jack Smith.

President Trump was charged with four counts of conspiracy and obstruction for his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and pleaded not guilty.

The case was originally scheduled to go to trial on March 4, beginning jury selection just one day before the Super Tuesday primaries across the nation.

It has since been taken off the calendar, allowing a New York judge to move forward with scheduling a March 25 trial for President Trump in a case alleging he mishandled business documents.

Last December, defense attorneys took the case to the appeals court after U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected a motion to dismiss based on presidential immunity.

This stayed pretrial proceedings while the appeals court rendered its decision, putting the case two months behind schedule.

The appeals court panel of three judges ultimately rejected the defense as well, but in an unusual order specified that a petition for a rehearing with the full bench would not result in a continuance of the stay.

The mandate would only be withheld if President Trump appealed to the Supreme Court for a review of his defense within six days, the order stated.

The Supreme Court had scheduled hearings for the week of April 22.

Even if it decided swiftly to reject President Trump’s defense and allow the case to continue in the district court, the parties would have to pick up from where they were back in December. This gives them roughly three months of pretrial litigation to go through before the case can be brought to trial.

That would continue while the special counsel is set to bring a second case against President Trump to trial on May 20.

Defense attorneys anticipate that case to last at least two months bringing the calendar to August, when a prosecutor in Georgia has requested a trial date in yet another criminal case against the former president.

Each judge has been cognizant of the other criminal case schedules, though Judge Chutkan has also noted that she will disregard the campaign calendar in her scheduling.

Considering Eligibility

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court still has to issue an order and opinion regarding President Trump’s eligibility as a candidate.

Trump attorneys counted some 88 challenges across 45 states citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The argument these petitioners make is that Jan. 6, 2021, constituted an insurrection, President Trump participated and therefore is ineligible to hold office again.

As of Feb. 28, officials and judges in three states have found President Trump ineligible but stayed any order to actually remove him from ballots, awaiting the High Court’s decision.

In Illinois, where ballots with President Trump’s name have already been printed, a judge gave only a two-day stay before election officials would have to void votes cast for President Trump unless appealed.

The challenges have raised myriad legal questions, including whether Section 3 applies to presidents, whether states have the authority to disqualify national candidates and the role of Congress in executing a disqualification.

If the High Court intends to write an opinion that will minimize the amount of chaos in upcoming elections, it has several landmines to avoid.

During the Feb. 8 hearing, justices sounded skeptical of the claim that Section 3 was meant to give states the authority to remove a presidential candidate on their own. After all, the 14th Amendment was ratified to curb state powers while enlarging federal authority.

But a ruling that orders Colorado to reverse its decision to disqualify President Trump, on the basis that states don’t have that authority, would not necessarily put the issue to bed.

If the Supreme Court finds that Congress is the sole authority on executing Section 3, experts have predicted it may create other chaotic scenarios with House members disqualifying him at any stage from the elections to ballot counting through legislation or a vote.

And on the off chance that the Supreme Court decides to address the issue of whether Jan. 6 constituted an insurrection, that would certainly provide caselaw for the prosecution or defense to cite in President Trump’s other criminal and civil cases.

Presidential Immunity in Other Cases?

President Trump’s attorneys have also raised the presidential immunity defense in several other criminal and civil cases. Thus far, judges in civil, criminal, state, federal, and appeals courts have rejected the defenses, allowing cases to go forward.

The Supreme Court has limited its review to only the question of presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for acts alleged to be taken while in office, but this is an area that the High Court has previously never addressed.

Depending on the opinion issued by the Court, Trump attorneys may then litigate presidential immunity with new caselaw in several of his other cases.

From The Epoch Times

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