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The Supreme Court nears the end of another momentous term. A decision on Trump’s immunity looms


WASHINGTON (AP) — In the last 10 days of June, on a frenetic pace of its own making, the Supreme Court touched a wide swath of American society in a torrent of decisions on abortion, guns, the environment, health, the opioid crisis, securities fraud and homelessness.

And, with the court meeting for the final time this term on Monday, an unusual push into July, the most anticipated decision of the term awaits: whether former President Donald Trump is immune from prosecution for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The court also will decide whether state laws limiting how social media platforms regulate content posted by their users violate the Constitution.

The immunity case was the last case argued, on April 25. So in one sense, it’s not unusual that it would be among the last decided. But the timing of the court’s resolution of Trump’s immunity may be as important as the eventual ruling.

By holding on to the case until early July, the justices have reduced, if not eliminated, the chance that Trump will have to stand trial before the November election, no matter what the court decides.

In other epic court cases involving the presidency, including the Watergate tapes case, the justices moved much faster. Fifty years ago, the court handed down its decision forcing President Richard Nixon to turn over recordings of Oval Office conversations just 16 days after hearing arguments.

Even this term, the court reached a decision in less than a month to rule unanimously for Trump that states cannot invoke the post-Civil War insurrection clause to kick him off the ballot over his refusal to accept Democratic President Joe Biden’s victory four years ago.

Delaying the start of trials has been a primary goal of Trump’s lawyers in all four criminal cases against him. Only one trial has been held and it resulted in his conviction for falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment made during the 2016 presidential election to a porn actor who says she had sex with him, which he denies. Trump is the first former president to be convicted of a felony.

The Supreme Court’s handling of the immunity case, which began when the justices rejected a first plea to take it up in December, have led critics to say the court has so far granted Trump “immunity by delay.” A federal appeals unanimously rejected Trump’s immunity claim in February, and the justices agreed a few weeks later to hear Trump’s appeal.

Then, too, the court considering the case has three justices nominated by the Republican — Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Two other justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, have rejected calls to step aside from the case over questions about their impartiality.

On Friday, the justices voted 6-3 to narrow a federal obstruction charge that has been used against hundreds of Jan. 6 defendants, as well as Trump. In that case, Alito and Thomas again took part and five conservatives were in the majority. Chief Justice John Roberts, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch were the other three.

Conservative justices don’t usually side with criminal defendants, said University of Pennsylvania law professor Kim Roosevelt.

“But it’s a Trump case, and so the lineup is less of a surprise and more of a disappointment,” Roosevelt said. “Increasingly, it looks as though a majority of this Court is willing to bend the normal rules to favor Trump.”

The other major unresolved issue — state laws to regulate social media platforms — also could have an ideological tinge.

The court is weighing efforts in Texas and Florida that would limit how Facebook, TikTok, X, YouTube and other social media platforms regulate content posted by their users.

While the details vary, both laws aimed to address conservative complaints that the social media companies were liberal-leaning and censored users based on their viewpoints, especially on the political right.

The Florida and Texas laws were signed by Republican governors in the months following decisions by Facebook and Twitter, now X, to cut Trump off over his posts related to the Capitol riot by his supporters.

On Wednesday, the justices dismissed a lawsuit filed by other Republican-led states against the Biden administration over claims that federal officials improperly coerced the platforms to take down controversial posts related to COVID-19 and election security.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court at https://apnews.com/hub/us-supreme-court





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