Former President Donald Trump has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to pause a lower court ruling that he is not immune from prosecution for efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election while he appeals the decision. (On February 6, three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed that Trump is not absolutely immune from criminal liability for actions he took while in office. A new date for Trump’s trial, originally set for March 4, has not yet been scheduled.)
Democratic Party elections lawyer Marc E. Elias — who on behalf of the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) “handled the state-by-state response to lawsuits filed by Trump contesting the 2020 results” — reviewed Trump’s application for a stay pending appeal.
This is a very poorly constructed and argued brief. I realize they were under time pressures and have a weak case, but at points this reads more like a political mailer than a serious piece of legal writing. https://t.co/I2mNYBgNCY— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) February 12, 2024
Elias reported: “This is a very poorly constructed and argued brief. I realize they were under time pressures and have a weak case, but at points this reads more like a political mailer than a serious piece of legal writing.”
If Elias is correct in his assessment of the document as more political charmer than serious legal pitch, evidence might be found in the very first line of the introduction, which begins with a quote from the enigmatic Yogi Berra: “This application,” the lawyers write, “is ‘déjà vu all over again.'”
(Berra was famous for winning championships as a New York Yankee and for saying curious things, such as another line Trump’s lawyers might be familiar with: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”)
[Democracy Docket features a copy of the 110-page brief.]
Legal appeals by their nature revisit old territory, so Berra’s famous line rings true — but without making the repetition senseless. The brief continues: “Two months ago, after the district court denied President Trump’s claim of Presidential immunity in this criminal case, the Special Counsel filed a petition for certiorari before judgment asking this 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.”
That didn’t happen, which is why the appellate court rendered its judgement, which the SCOTUS is now being asked to consider.
The DC Circuit judges wrote: “We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter” the D.C. Circuit judges wrote.