Supreme Court set to rule on Trump immunity in election interference case

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday is expected to issue its long-anticipated ruling on whether former President Donald Trump can claim immunity from prosecution for at least some of his actions in seeking to overturn the 2020 election.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced Friday that Monday would be the last day of rulings in the current nine-month court term, with the Trump case one of four yet to be decided.

The rulings will be issued one by one, starting at 10:00 a.m., with the Trump case likely to be the last.

The court has already faced fierce criticism from the left — both for hearing the Trump case in the first place, thereby preventing a trial from taking place in March, and for taking so long to decide it, making it difficult if not impossible for a trial to begin before the election.

Trump faces a four-count indictment for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, in which a mob of his supporters sought to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election.

But time is running short for a trial to take place before November’s election, in which Trump is seeking to regain power.

Even if the Supreme Court on Monday rejects all of Trump’s immunity arguments and says a trial can take place, it could likely not begin until September.

Based on the timeline established before the appeals process began, it could take three months after the Supreme Court ruling to begin a trial, which could last up to 12 weeks.

The legal question before the court is “whether and if so to what extent does a former president enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office,” the order said.

While Trump initially made a broad immunity argument that would lead to the entire indictment being dismissed if granted, his lawyer backed off from those assertions during April’s oral argument. He conceded that some of the acts alleged in the indictment were not part of Trump’s official duties. Trump’s lawyers have long acknowledged that Trump is not immune for any conduct that is not an official act.

Lower courts had rejected Trump’s broad claim of immunity, prompting him to ask for intervention from the Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority including three justices he appointed.

Based on the oral arguments, it appeared likely the court would conclude that there could be some conduct alleged in the indictment that is subject to immunity. The justices could set a new test for determining what official acts receive immunity and then send it back to lower courts to determine how that affects Trump’s indictment.

That could add further delay to starting the trial.

In the other cases to be decided on Monday, two concern challenges to Republican-backed state laws seeking to regulate social media platforms. The other case relates to when companies can challenge federal agency rulemaking.

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