Above, a shot of Donald Trump arriving for court in Washington, D.C. Judge Tanya Chutkan has seemingly made an argument directed at an eventual Supreme Court appeal in a recent ruling against Trump.
U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan has seemingly pitched a reason ruling against Donald Trump directly to the Supreme Court, according to former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance on Friday.
The former president is currently embroiled in four criminal cases across the country, the most prominent of which is a federal election interference case brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and special counsel Jack Smith pertaining to his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election that led to the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot. The trial is set to get underway in March 2024, presided over by Chutkan, with Trump having previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. Trump has also pleaded not guilty to all charges in the other three criminal cases.
On Friday, Chutkan issued a ruling in the case, finding that Trump is not immune from prosecution stemming from his election interference attempts just because he was president at the time, as his legal team had argued.
“Former Presidents enjoy no special conditions on their federal criminal liability,” Chutkan wrote. “Defendant may be subject to federal investigation, indictment, prosecution, conviction, and punishment for any criminal acts undertaken while in office.”
In making the decision, Chutkan also seemed to have been preemptively making the argument for it to the Supreme Court, as was suggested by Vance, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, during a Friday appearance on MSNBC.
“She is making a compelling argument to the Supreme Court, saying we value the separation of powers, but we also value the ability of each branch to perform its functions,” Vance told host Ali Velshi. “And so she is telling the Supreme Court, ‘If you reverse my decision, you will impair essential functions of government.’ [Chutkan] has been reading the Supreme Court’s opinions for the last term in particular, when they’ve been focused on the Founding Father’s intent on history and tradition. She says ‘Here’s American history and tradition for you Supreme Court.'”
If an appeal is sought against Chutkan’s decision, it is likely to end up being argued before the Supreme Court. The Court, as is widely suspected by many observers, is seen by Trump and his legal team as a major potential avenue for avoiding prosecution, as it is currently made up of a conservative majority, 6-3, with three of the justices having been appointed by Trump himself.
Newsweek reached out to legal experts via email for comment.
Trump’s office has previously decried the decision from Chutkan in a statement provided to Newsweek.
“Radical Democrats, under the direction of Crooked Joe Biden, continue to try and destroy bedrock constitutional principles and set dangerous precedents that would cripple future presidential administrations and our country as a whole, in their desperate effort to interfere in the 2024 Presidential Election,” Trump spokesman Steven Cheung wrote.
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