Justice John Roberts Urges Jack Smith for Quick Reply on Trump Immunity

Supreme Court Faces Historic Presidential Immunity Case

by Zain ul Abedin
Justice John Roberts Urges Jack Smith for Quick Reply on Trump Immunity
© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In a significant move in the U.S. court system, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has given special counsel Jack Smith a clear one-week deadline to respond to a lawsuit. The directive requires Smith to lay out the reasons former President Donald Trump should not receive presidential immunity from allegations that he wronged elections.

Trump's legal team approached the Supreme Court, as the whole legal wrangle gained ground on Monday. They had sought an interim relief, approaching the Court to stay the judgment of a lower appeals court. The previous ruling had been that Trump does not have immunity after leaving office.

Central to this legal dispute is the principle that no man, irrespective of his former office, can be above the law perpetually. A prior three-judge panel emphasized that there needs to be legal accountability for an ex-president.

Roberts Sets Swift Deadline

Trump's defense approached this matter very gingerly, saying the claim has never been accepted before. They strongly urged before the Supreme Court that the issue was a complex one and of such magnitude that presidents were totally immune for acts done by them in their term.

They advised the Supreme Court to deliberate many times before it reached a conclusion on the issue. Chief Justice Roberts, in a sign of the pressure for the issue, has given the Feb. 20 deadline for Smith's response. The fast track marks a Court determined to speed up its legal work in a high-profile case.

Former Manhattan District Attorney Catherine Christian, in her comments to MSNBC, noted that the quick action of Roberts was of vital importance. His actions were put forward as a good sign, showing that the Supreme Court was about to make a sped-up decision.

Those insights from Christian underscore the keen public and legal interest in a case that probes the bounds of presidential privilege and its aftermath. It is not only a matter that affects Trump, but it lays down a solid precedent for how the judiciary shall interpret presidential immunity for cases thereafter.