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HomeUSThe US Supreme Court may soon confront pivotal decisions made by President...

The US Supreme Court may soon confront pivotal decisions made by President Trump.

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US Supreme Court Could Soon Face Key Trump Decisions
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Ten months from now, U.S. voters will elect a president again. Still, before they head to the polls, the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming weeks could play a pivotal role in the political fate of the leading Republican candidate, former President Donald Trump.

Three-plus years after losing his reelection bid, Trump faces a set of obstacles to reclaiming the White House, all of which the country’s nine-member highest court could weigh in on, to Trump’s detriment or benefit.

He is claiming immunity from prosecution on an unprecedented four criminal indictments encompassing 91 charges for which he could stand trial in the coming months.

He is also fighting decisions by two states to keep him off the 2024 Republican presidential primary election ballots for his role in allegedly inciting an insurrection by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, as they unsuccessfully tried to keep Congress from certifying that Joe Biden had defeated him in the presidential election.

Currently, the Supreme Court is not set to consider Trump’s challenges to rulings against him, but that could quickly change as lower courts hear the cases, with Trump, government prosecutors, and others certain to appeal any adverse rulings against them to the Supreme Court.

The high court has already agreed to review the case of a police officer charged with obstructing an official proceeding of Congress — the certification of Biden’s victory in the Electoral College — that also could affect Trump. The policeman contends that prosecutors wrongly used a corporate fraud statute usually reserved for people who tamper with documents and evidence.

Prosecutors have deployed the law in charging more than 300 other Capitol rioters, and it forms the basis of two charges against Trump in a Washington case brought by special counsel Jack Smith accusing Trump of illegally scheming to upend his 2020 election loss to Biden, his Democratic opponent.

The court will hear the policeman’s case in its current term and could announce its ruling sometime in June, well after the scheduled March 4 start of the Washington election fraud case.

More broadly, Trump is making the bold claim that he has absolute immunity from prosecution because any election-related actions he took occurred while he was still president in late 2020 and early 2021. It is the time frame in which prosecutors allege he plotted with key associates to illegally undermine the will of the majority who favored Biden in several key political battleground states so he could overturn the vote in those states to stay in power for another four years.

In the U.S., presidents are not elected by the national popular vote, which Biden won by 7 million votes in 2020. Rather, U.S. presidents, and their vice-presidential running mates, are elected through balloting in 50 state-by-state elections, with the most populous states holding the most electoral votes in the Electoral College.

About 2,000 Trump supporters delayed the eventual congressional certification of Biden’s victory in the Electoral College vote count three years ago when they stormed into the Capitol, fighting with police and ransacking some congressional offices.

Special counsel Smith is arguing that no one is above the law and immune from prosecution — not even a former president like Trump, the first ever U.S. leader charged with criminal offenses. U.S. Judge Tanya Chutkan, presiding over the election fraud case, agreed with the prosecutor, ruling that Trump is not entitled to a “get-out-of-jail-free pass.”

Also at issue is Trump’s claim that he can’t be prosecuted for any role in the January 6 rioting at the Capitol because the House of Representatives impeached him for his actions before his presidential term ended although the Senate later acquitted him in early 2021 after he had left office. Trump broadly contends that he can’t be prosecuted criminally now in connection with the January 6 mayhem because the Senate has already cleared him in a political proceeding.

Smith asked the Supreme Court to fast-track a decision on Trump’s immunity-from-prosecution claim, but the justices refused, returning the case to a federal appellate court in Washington. The appeals court has scheduled a hearing on the dispute on January 9 and could rule relatively soon thereafter, setting up the likelihood of a prompt appeal to the Supreme Court by the losing side.

The Supreme Court could then let the appellate ruling stand or decide to hear legal arguments in the case and issue its own ruling, perhaps, but not for certain, in time to allow the election fraud trial to start in March.

The Supreme Court includes three justices appointed by Trump but in earlier 2020 election-related cases it has ruled against the former president.

The court is likely to face a new case directly related to the 2024 election after the Colorado Supreme Court in the western U.S. ruled Trump off the Republican primary election ballot in the state because of a U.S. constitutional provision prohibiting anyone from holding public office who engaged in an insurrection to overthrow the government.

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Some activist groups and Trump critics have accused Trump of being an insurrectionist by urging supporters to “fight like hell” to block the congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory. With the same reasoning as in Colorado, an elections official in the northeastern state of Maine also threw Trump off the ballot there.

With appeals already underway, the Supreme Court might have to make a quick nationwide ruling about Trump’s election eligibility. The first presidential party balloting starts with caucuses in the Midwestern state of Iowa on January 15, with primary elections scheduled throughout the country in the weeks that follow.

“We have full confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will quickly rule in our favor and finally end these un-American lawsuits,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said.

Trump has denounced the prosecutions against him, calling Smith deranged, and saying the allegations amount to a “political witch hunt” by the Biden White House to keep him from winning the presidency again. Trump has denied all wrongdoing.

Smith, the Justice Department prosecutor, has also accused Trump of mishandling classified U.S. national security documents by hoarding them at his Mar-a-Lago oceanside estate in the southern state of Florida after he left the White House.

A state prosecutor in the southern state of Georgia has accused him of 2020 election fraud in that state and a New York prosecutor has accused him of falsifying business records at his family’s real estate conglomerate to hide hush money payments to a porn film star ahead of his successful 2016 run for the presidency.

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