When former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit after the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago residence on Aug. 8 and seized thousands of documents, some purportedly marked as “classified,” it seemed like it was only a matter of time before the dispute reached the Supreme Court.
That day finally arrived on Tuesday, when Trump’s attorneys filed a request for the Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court ruling that limited the district court-ordered Special Master review of the seized materials, the Daily Caller reported.
The request from Trump was docketed with Justice Clarence Thomas, who has oversight of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Thomas immediately set a deadline of next Tuesday for the Justice Department to file its response to Trump’s request.
Mar-a-Lago case finally reaches Supreme Court, sort of
According to SCOTUSblog, District Judge Aileen Cannon had initially ordered the DOJ to turn over the roughly 11,000 documents seized from Mar-a-Lago, including around 100 that bear “classified” markings, to an appointed Special Master for an independent review to settle any disputes about what may or may not be protected by privilege, personal property, and whether certain marked documents remained classified or had previously been declassified, and further ordered the FBI to halt its use of the seized materials in its criminal investigation.
The DOJ appealed, and an 11th Circuit panel issued a partial stay on Cannon’s order and ruled that not only could the FBI continue to use the seized materials in its probe, but it also didn’t have to turn over the estimated 100 documents with classification markings for the Special Master review.
Now Trump’s attorneys have pressed the matter up to the Supreme Court and asked for the 11th Circuit’s stay to be vacated in order for the Special Master to conduct a thorough review of all seized materials, as the district court had originally ordered.
Trump argues stay should be lifted
In the application filed with the Supreme Court, Trump’s attorneys wrote, “This unwarranted stay should be vacated as it impairs substantially the ongoing, time-sensitive work of the Special Master.”
“Moreover, any limit on the comprehensive and transparent review of materials seized in the extraordinary raid of a President’s home erodes public confidence in our system of justice,” the filing continued.
The former president’s lawyers further argued that the 11th Circuit lacked the authority and jurisdiction to issue the stay that limited the Special Master review because Judge Cannon’s order had been of the “procedural” variety that was not immediately appealable.
Yet, even if the appeals court had the authority to issue the stay, it should still be vacated since the independent review of the Special Master was necessary to settle the ongoing dispute over whether the seized documents marked as classified were actually still classified, as the DOJ insists, or had previously been declassified under the former president’s authority, as Trump has asserted.
Court will likely act after DOJ response received
As noted, Justice Thomas gave the DOJ one week to file its response to Trump’s request that the 11th Circuit’s stay be vacated and that the Special Master be permitted to conduct his review of all of the seized materials, including those with classified markings, in a timely but thorough fashion.
Once that DOJ response has been received by the high court, Thomas, or more likely the entire court, will then decide whether or not to intervene as Trump requested and lift the stay imposed by the appeals court panel.