Supreme Court hears arguments on Trump immunity case (2024)

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4:29 p.m. ET, April 25, 2024

We've wrapped up our live coverage for the day. You can relive today's Supreme Court proceedings as they happened by scrolling through the posts below.

2:25 p.m. ET, April 25, 2024

These are the key takeaways from the Supreme Court arguments on Trump’s absolute immunity claims

From CNN's John Fritze,Tierney SneedandMarshall Cohen

Supreme Court hears arguments on Trump immunity case (1)

The Supreme Court appeared ready to reject former President Donald Trump’s claims of sweeping immunity and the broad protections he has sought to shut down his federal election subversion case, but also reluctant to give special counsel Jack Smith carte blanche to pursue those charges.

After nearly three hours of oral arguments, several of the justices seemed willing to embrace a result that could jeopardize the ability to hold a trial before the November election.

Much of the hearing focused on whether there should be a distinction between official acts by Trump pursuant to his presidential duties and his private conduct.

Here are key takeaways from today's oral arguments:

  • Supreme Court seems unlikely to fully resolve the immunity question: As the justices wrestled with the nuances of the case and a series of complicated hypotheticals, it seemed increasingly unlikely the court would offer a clear answer on whether Trump may be prosecuted for his effort to overturn the 2020 election. The upshot is that the Supreme Court appeared likely to leave much of that work to lower courts, proceedings that could take months and further delay a trial that had originally been set for March 4. That outcome would play into Trump’s strategy of delay and jeopardize a trial before the election.
  • Trump attorney concedes some acts may be "private" and not official: In a notable series of concessions, Trump’s attorney D. John Sauer acknowledged that some of the alleged conduct supporting the criminal charges against the former president were private. The admission shows how much ground Sauer gave up during the hearing, after Trump had made more sweeping claims in his legal briefs earlier this year, asserting that the entire prosecution should be thrown out because the actions in question were part of his official duties as president.

Continue reading more takeaways from the arguments.

1:28 p.m. ET, April 25, 2024

Justices could give Trump a strategic win if they punt the case back to lower courts, legal correspondent says

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

While it appears the majority of Supreme Court justices are not willing to dismiss special counsel Jack Smith's case outright, they may punt it back to lower courts, which would delay a trial and hand a strategic win to former President Donald Trump, CNN chief legal correspondent Paula Reid said.

"It's pretty clear from what weheard that the majority ofjustices are not willing tojust toss out the specialcounsel's case," Reid said.

But, she continued, Chief Justice JohnRoberts "clearly believesthat the lower courts did not do enough to suss out exactly what is an official act versusa private act. So what they'resetting up here is likely thejustices are going to come upwith some sort of test, and then send it back down to the lowercourts for more litigation."

There is a possibility the case could be brought back to the justices a year from now, "after more litigation at the lower-court level, or if Trump is reelected, he can make this case go away. So, even if he's not likely poised for a legal win at the high court, strategically, it sounded likethis is going to be a win forhim," Reid said.

Remember: The issue of determining whether Trump's actions were "private" or "official" is central to the former president's claim that his efforts to overturn the 2020 election were part of his official duties as president — and therefore subject to immunity from prosecution.

1:15 p.m. ET, April 25, 2024

Arguments in Trump’s historic Supreme Court immunity dispute are over

From CNN's John Fritze

With Chief Justice John Roberts announcing that the “case is submitted,” the court has finished hearing arguments in Trump’s immunity case.

And that raises an important question that is largely unanswerable: Just how much time will the high court take to hand down its opinion? Usually, a major case argued in April wouldn’t be decided until the end of June.

But in the Trump immunity appeal, the court is already facing criticism for the weeks it took to decide whether to take the case. There is concern, particularly on the left, that the slow pace benefited Trump’s broader legal strategy to delay a trial until after his election.

On the other hand, the justices operate on their own schedule, and the court was designed to resist external pressures on their work.

1:14 p.m. ET, April 25, 2024

Barrett sketches out how case could go to trial this year

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

In a lengthy and crucial exchange between Justice Amy Coney Barrett and the Justice Department's Michael Dreeben, the Supreme Court heard how Trump's case could see a path to trial this year.

Barrett sketched out that the case could go to trial, and how, if the Supreme Court sends it back to the trial level, it could be heard by a jury without further appeals court involvement.

That would mean no further delays in Donald Trump's case before a trial, once the Supreme Court rules.

"The special counsel has expressed some concern for speed," Barrett said.

She asked Dreeben if the trial-level could sort out what's official or private acts of the presidency in this key, or is there "another option for the special counsel just to proceed on the private conduct?"

Dreeben told her the indictment is substantially about private conduct. He says the special counsel's office would like to present a full picture of the allegations to the jury.

But in Trump's legal world, leaving determinations about his allegations in the case could be disastrous before the election, according to polls as well as the jury pool makeup in Washington, DC.

12:43 p.m. ET, April 25, 2024

Justice Jackson: In "ordinary" case, trial would proceed even if defendant has some immunity protection

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson says in an “ordinary” case, a trial would move forward even if a criminal defendant had immunity for certain actions.

“There is sufficient allegations in the indictment, in the government’s view, that fall into the 'private acts' bucket that the case should be allowed to proceed,” Jackson said.

“Because in an ordinary case, it wouldn’t be stopped just because some of the acts are allegedly immunized. Even if people agree that some are immunized. If there are other acts that aren’t, the case would go forward.”

“That is right,” Michael Dreeben, the special counsel’s attorney, said.

Dreeben has repeatedly said many of Trump’s actions around the 2020 election were part of his presidential duties, and therefore aren’t protected by immunity – even if the high court said the former president had some level of protection.

12:36 p.m. ET, April 25, 2024

Special counsel attorney tells Barrett that SCOTUS ruling could impact state Trump prosecutions

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

The attorney for special counsel Jack Smith suggested that if the Supreme Court found that presidential immunity was implicit, it could also protect the president from state prosecution.

“If the president has some kind of immunity that’s implicit in Article Two (of the Constitution) then that immunity would protect him from state prosecution as well?” Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked.

“Of course,” attorney Michael Dreeben said.

Trump has been charged in a widespread conspiracy case in Fulton County, Georgia, for his actions to subvert the 2020 election results.

12:18 p.m. ET, April 25, 2024

Meanwhile, judge upholds jury verdict against Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation case

From CNN's Kara Scannell in New York

In New York on Thursday, a federal judge upheld the E. Jean Carroll defamation verdict and $83 million damages award, denying Donald Trump’s motion for a new trial.

Judge Lewis Kaplan, in a written opinion Thursday, said Trump’s legal arguments are without merit. The judge also found that the punitive damages the jury awarded Trump “passes constitutional muster.”

Trump is also separately appealing the verdict.

12:18 p.m. ET, April 25, 2024

Gorsuch and Kavanaugh highlight the historical importance of immunity case

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

When discussing the issue of determining motivation in the case, Justice Neil Gorsuch highlighted the historical importance of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter of presidential immunity.

“I’m not concerned about this case, but I am concerned about future uses of the criminal law to target political opponents based on accusations about their motives,” Gorsuch said.

The justice added: “We’re writing a rule for the ages.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh echoed that sentiment, noting that the case has future implications for the presidency and the country as a whole.

Supreme Court hears arguments on Trump immunity case (2024)


Can you hear Supreme Court arguments live? ›

Courtroom seating is available to the public on a first-come, first seated basis. An audio feed of the argument is live-streamed on the Court's website, and the Court posts the audio later in the day.

How does the Supreme Court decide which cases to hear? ›

Typically, the Court hears cases that have been decided in either an appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals or the highest Court in a given state (if the state court decided a Constitutional issue). The Supreme Court has its own set of rules. According to these rules, four of the nine Justices must vote to accept a case.

How many Supreme Court judges did Trump? ›

At this stage in his term, Trump had two Supreme Court justices and 51 appellate court judges confirmed to lifetime appointments.

How to listen to immunity hearing? ›

How To Listen To Donald Trump's Immunity Case at the Supreme...
  1. LIVE AUDIO: The Supreme Court of the United States.
  2. LINK: Live Audio from the Supreme Court (10 a.m. EDT, Thursday,4/25/2024)
  4. Link: C-SPAN Online.
  6. The Supreme Court Docket.
Apr 22, 2024

How long after hearing arguments does the Supreme Court rule? ›

The court files its written opinion within 90 days of oral argument. The decision becomes final 30 days after filing.

How long do Supreme Court arguments last? ›

Unless otherwise noted, the Court generally hears two, one-hour oral arguments, with attorneys for each side of a case given 30 minutes to make a presentation to the Court and answer questions posed by the Justices. These sessions are open to the public.

Who can overturn a Supreme Court decision? ›

When the Supreme Court rules on a constitutional issue, that judgment is virtually final; its decisions can be altered only by the rarely used procedure of constitutional amendment or by a new ruling of the Court.

Which case would most likely be heard by the Supreme Court? ›

The Justices of the Supreme Court are most likely to take cases that will affect the entire country, not just the individuals involved.

Why would the Supreme Court refuse to hear a case? ›

The Justices may be satisfied that the decision of the lower court was correct, or that the case has no national significance, or, in some instances, that the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction. Whatever the reason for denial, the effect is to allow the decision of the lower court to stand.

How many federal judge vacancies are there? ›

Judicial Vacancies
CourtAuthorized JudgeshipsVacancies
US Court of International Trade90
US Court of Federal Claims*161
US Supreme Court90
2 more rows

Who has absolute immunity? ›

Generally, only judges, prosecutors, legislators, and the highest executive officials of all governments are absolutely immune from liability when acting within their authority. Medical peer review participants may also receive absolute immunity. Ostrzenski v. Seigel, 177 F.

What is the argument for presidential immunity? ›

In 1973, amid the Watergate scandal, the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued a memorandum concluding that it is unconstitutional to prosecute a sitting president. Its arguments include that the president "is the symbolic head of the Nation.

Can the immune system hear noise? ›

Short-term or low-intensity noise can enhance immune function, while long-term or high-intensity noise suppresses it.

Are Supreme Court arguments public? ›

All oral arguments are open to the public, but seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-seated basis.

Does the Supreme Court hear public arguments? ›

All oral arguments are open to the public, but seating is limited and on a first-come, first-seated basis.

Who speaks during oral arguments? ›

During oral argument, all parties who filed a brief are offered a limited amount of time to speak directly to the Court of Appeal justices before they decide the appeal. Oral argument is an opportunity for the parties to make sure the court understands the most important issues of an appeal.

How can I communicate with the Supreme Court? ›

Contact Us
  1. U.S. Mail: Supreme Court of the United States. 1 First Street, NE. Washington, DC 20543.
  2. Telephone: 202-479-3000. TTY: 202-479-3472. (Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)
  3. Contact the Public Information Office by U.S. Mail: Public Information Officer. Supreme Court of the United States. 1 First Street, NE.

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