WASHINGTON, DC — Counsel for former President Donald Trump filed an application to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday to stay a lower court ruling that presidents are not immune to prosecution for alleged crimes from when they were in office.
In the 112-page filing, Trump’s attorneys highlight that Special Counsel Jack Smith previously sought for the Supreme Court “to undertake an extraordinary departure from ordinary appellate procedures and decide the vital and historic question of Presidential immunity on a hyper-accelerated basis” after the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia denied Trump’s immunity claim.
The Supreme Court ultimately declined to take up the matter, which Smith took to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Trump’s lawyers argue that the court ruled against the claim “in an extraordinarily fast manner.”
The application seeks for the Supreme Court to stay the ruling “and allow President Trump’s claim of immunity to be decided in the ordinary course of justice.”
The Trump attorneys contend that the three-judge panel’s decision at the D.C. Circuit was a “stunning breach of precedent and historical norms,” emphasizing no other former president has ever been prosecuted “for his official acts,” and they should not be now, or in the future:
The panel opinion below, like the district court, concludes that Presidential immunity from prosecution for official acts does not exist at all. This is a stunning breach of precedent and historical norms. In 234 years of American history, no President was ever prosecuted for his official acts. Nor should they be. Presidents “must make the most sensitive and far-reaching decisions entrusted to any official under our constitutional system. Their decisions are the most politically controversial of any official, and they draw the most national attention and political ire, making the President an easily identifiable target for politically motivated prosecution. If the prosecution of a President is upheld, such prosecutions will recur and become increasingly common, ushering in destructive cycles of recrimination
They further argue the precedent set would significantly impact future presidents’ freedoms to make decisions, with the potential threat of prosecution hampering their ability to serve as commander-in-chief adequately.
“This threat will hang like a millstone around every future President’s neck, distorting Presidential decisionmaking, undermining the President’s independence, and clouding the President’s ability “‘to deal fearlessly and impartially with’ the duties of his office,’”” it reads.
The application is United States v. Trump, and it has not yet been assigned a document number in the Supreme Court of the United States of America.