The justices’ order maintains a hold on preparations for a trial focused on Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss. The court will hear arguments in late April, with a decision likely no later than the end of June.
The court said in an unsigned statement that it will consider “whether and if so to what extent does a former President enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office.”
The Supreme Court has previously held that presidents are immune from civil liability for official acts, and Trump’s lawyers have for months argued that that protection should be extended to criminal prosecution as well.
Lower courts have so far rejected Trump’s novel claim that former presidents enjoy absolute immunity for actions that fall within their official job duties. A panel of appellate judges in Washington ruled earlier in February that U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who would preside over the election interference trial, was right to say that the case could proceed and that Trump can be prosecuted for actions undertaken while in the White House and in the run-up to Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
The case is separate from the high court’s consideration of Trump’s appeal to remain on the presidential ballot despite attempts to kick him off because of his efforts following his election loss in 2020. During arguments on Feb. 8, the court seemed likely to side with Trump. A decision could come any time.
The high court also will hear an appeal in April from one of the more than 1,200 people charged in the Capitol riot. The case could upend a charge prosecutors have brought against more than 300 people, including Trump.
Special counsel Jack Smith’s election interference case in Washington is one of four prosecutions Trump faces as he seeks to reclaim the White House. His trial in New York is scheduled to begin March 25 in connection with hush money payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels. Trump also has been indicted in Florida on federal charges that he illegally retained classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate, a case that was also brought by Smith and is set for trial in May. He’s also charged in state court in Georgia with scheming to subvert that state’s 2020 election. He has denied any wrongdoing.