The Supreme Court denied a petition from Special Prosecutor Jack Smith to expedite Donald Trump’s appeal of the presidential immunity issues in his Jan. 6 case.
An order issued by the Supreme Court shows that his ask was denied. No dissents are listed.
Smith had asked the high court to leapfrog the D.C. Circuit after Trump appealed a district court ruling which rejected his motion to dismiss the case on grounds of presidential immunity.
The declination will almost certainly postpone Trump’s March trial date in the D.C. Jan. 6 case. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case on an expedited schedule; Trump will then have more options to delay the case as it works its way up to a potential Supreme Court showdown.
The questions at the heart of the appeal are untested long shots largely because of Trump’s unprecedented efforts to reverse his loss in the 2020 election. They are: does presidential immunity prevent prosecution for crimes committed while in office? And, can former presidents be prosecuted over acts that, during a Senate impeachment trial, resulted in their acquittal?
It’s now up to the D.C. Circuit to first weigh in on those questions. Oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 9, a lighting fast timeframe for federal appellate courts.
But for now, proceedings in the Jan. 6 case are frozen until the appeal is resolved, per an order from U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan for the District of Columbia.
Smith had argued to the Supreme Court that allowing the appeal to move along its normal course would likely delay the trial, saying that it was of “imperative public importance” to resolve the case.
“The United States recognizes that this is an extraordinary request,” he wrote. “This is an extraordinary case.”
Trump shot back this week that Smith had no standing to ask for the sped up appeal because he had won at the district level, and peppered the special counsel with accusations that the case was only urgent for “partisan” political reasons.
The Supreme Court did not issue any explanation in its order for why it denied the request.
Smith said in a response filing on Thursday that Trump would still have lots of opportunity to delay the case, even if the special counsel wins quickly at the D.C. Circuit. That includes a 45 day period to request that the full appeals court rehear the case, and 90 days to ask the Supreme Court to take up the matter.
There remain a lot of variables about how the timing of the case will proceed. A lot will depend on if the Supreme Court agrees to take the case after the appeal court rules and on what timetable it sets for considering it.