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Supreme Court gives Jack Smith one week to respond to Trump on immunity

The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave special counsel Jack Smith a week to respond to former President Trump’s request to stay his Jan. 6 federal trial while he appeals his immunity claims.

In a brief order, the High Court ordered Smith to respond by Tuesday, February 20, which is not a particularly quick timeline.

Trump filed an emergency motion Monday urging the justices to block a lower ruling that he does not have presidential immunity from the indictment, an argument that allowed Trump to delay his trial date as the appeal process moves forward.

The Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on Trump’s motion is poised to have outsized influence on whether the former president’s trial will take place before this year’s election. The trial was originally scheduled for March 4 but was postponed as Trump appealed the immunity issue.

Smith aims to bring Trump to justice quickly to avoid the possibility that Trump will first return to the White House and then pardon himself or order his Justice Department to drop the case.

By next Tuesday, the special counsel will now have to respond to Trump’s latest tactic: requesting that his trial be stayed until he can ask the full U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Columbia to review its claims for immunity and then, if necessary, the Supreme Court.

Smith’s response time is not quick compared to how the Supreme Court has handled some recent emergency requests, which indicates, however, that the justices are not viewing Trump’s case with particular urgency.

Last month, when an anti-affirmative action group challenged the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s race-conscious admissions policies on the Supreme Court’s emergency docket, the court ordered the school to respond within four days.

A few weeks earlier, the court, in an emergency case involving Michigan state legislative maps, set the response to be due six days after the petition was initially filed.

In Trump’s case, the court order gives Smith a longer window of eight days to respond after Trump’s initial filing, although that window also includes the President’s Day holiday weekend.

Smith could also act more quickly and respond earlier than the deadline.

Trump is charged in the case with four federal crimes that accuse him of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election. It is one of four criminal cases he faces, and Trump has pleaded not guilty of all the charges he faces.

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