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Supreme Court decision on presidential immunity looms large

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The U.S. Supreme Court has more than a dozen cases to decide before its self-imposed deadline of the end of June, including a decision on former President Donald Trump’s claims of presidential immunity.

The nation’s highest court has 14 cases to decide before the end of the term. Among the most anticipated decisions involves Trump’s claim he has presidential immunity from criminal prosecution.

The Supreme Court decision could have significant implications not only for Trump, but for all future presidents.

With no decision as of Monday, the court’s final potential days for issuing opinions coincide with the first presidential debate, set for Thursday night.

Trump has repeatedly called on the U.S. Supreme Court to decide his pending presidential immunity case. He repeated those calls days after a New York jury convicted him of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to an adult actress.

Supreme Court justices are considering a case involving Trump and whether presidents have immunity from criminal prosecutions. Trump’s team argued that the president must have immunity for a functioning democracy to flourish, while the attorney for the federal government argued that presidents don’t enjoy blanket criminal immunity.

For months, Trump has delayed his criminal trial in Washington, D.C., on charges he conspired to undermine the 2020 election by appealing his claims that he is protected by presidential immunity.

Lower courts rejected his immunity claims, but during oral arguments, the Supreme Court appeared inclined to provide some immunity, but less than Trump’s lawyers seek.

Justice Samuel Alito asked during oral arguments if such broad immunity was needed or if some narrower form of immunity could be applied. All the justices seemed to agree that their decision would have long-lasting implications.

“We are writing a rule for the ages,” Justice Neil Gorsuch said.

When he was president, Trump picked three members of the nine-member U.S. Supreme Court: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

In Washington, Smith’s team charged Trump with four federal counts related to contesting the 2020 election and the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021. The charges are conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction, and conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted, according to the indictment. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Not all Republicans are on board with Trump’s quest for presidential immunity. Republicans for the Rule of Law recently launched a $2 million TV ad campaign featuring conservatives arguing that the Supreme Court should reject the former president’s immunity claim.

The ad campaign is set to air in 12 states, including Alabama and Texas and states that are directly affected by these arguments, such as Georgia and Pennsylvania.

“Our constitutional system is predicated on legal accountability and equal justice under the law, even for presidents and past presidents,” said Sarah Longwell, executive director of Republicans for the Rule of Law. “Conservatives feel this in our bones: No man or woman is above the law. In this case, that means rejecting the ‘absolute immunity’ claim.”

In late May, a New York jury convicted Trump, 77, of 34 counts of falsifying business records. Under New York state law, falsifying business records in the first degree is a Class E felony with a maximum sentence of four years in prison per count. Sentencing in that case is set for July 11.

Trump is preparing to face President Joe Biden in a November rematch for the White House.

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