Amy Coney Barrett unlikely to side with Trump on immunity

 May 8, 2024

Donald Trump can likely expect a favorable outcome when the Supreme Court makes a decision on his immunity claim, but he shouldn't count on the support of Amy Coney Barrett.

Barrett's questioning at last month's arguments contrasted with that of her conservative colleagues, who seemed more concerned about the dire consequences of failing to give presidents enough immunity from prosecution.

Her thoughts have many Trump supporters scratching their heads.

Barrett skeptical of Trump

Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas also expressed worry to some degree about a cycle of retaliation, with ex-presidents being targeted by their rivals on leaving office.

“You know how easy it is in many cases for a prosecutor to get a grand jury to bring an indictment and reliance on the good faith of the prosecutor may not be enough in some cases,” Roberts said.

While the other conservatives focused on the future consequences of their ruling, Barrett's questioning center on Trump's January 6th prosecution and Jack Smith's urgency to bring the case.

“The special counsel has expressed some concern for speed and wanting to move forward,” Barrett said.

Barrett even suggested that Smith could move ahead by dropping the allegations in his case that fall within the scope of a president's official acts.

Has Trump already won?

She grilled Trump's lawyer on whether Trump acted in a personal or official capacity when he allegedly "spread knowingly false claims of election fraud."

"From her questions, it did seem that she was not buying into a complete immunity, meaning you can't consider anything about it," former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu told Newsweek.

"She was sort of interested in exploring whether these same immunity arguments are more appropriately raised, perhaps as trial defenses."

With Barrett appearing to side with the court's left wing, Roberts is seen as the justice most likely to decide the outcome of the immunity case.

Roberts appeared to break with Barrett on the ability to bring the case without official acts included. That could make the indictment a "one-legged stool," he said.

Many expect the case to be sent back to the trial court, making a verdict before Election Day difficult. In that case, Trump could eke out a political victory even if the Supreme Court ultimately doesn't buy his legal argument.

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