Turns out Clarence Thomas wasn’t his savior after all.
The full Supreme Court in an unsigned order declined Sen. Lindsey Graham’s petition to block a subpoena to testify before a Georgia grand jury about the Trump campaign’s efforts to interfere with the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in the state.
“The application for stay and an injunction pending appeal presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied. The order heretofore entered by Justice Thomas is vacated,” the order reads. In October, Thomas issued a temporary order blocking the subpoena from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who has empaneled a special grand jury to look into Trump and his supporters’ conduct following his loss in the last presidential election. Thomas is considered the most hardcore conservative on the Court, but his order was a matter of procedure to allow the other eight justices time to consider the merits of Graham’s petition.
Graham had argued that the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause protected him as a legislator from being answering questions under oath about his activities during the election, but lower courts disagreed, setting up the Supreme Court fight. Today, the full court sided with lower courts.
“The lower courts assumed that the informal investigative fact-finding that Senator Graham assertedly engaged in constitutes legislative activity protected by the Speech or Debate Clause, U. S. Const. Art. I, §6, cl. 1, and they held that Senator Graham may not be questioned about such activities. The lower courts also made clear that Senator Graham may return to the District Court should disputes arise regarding the application of the Speech or Debate Clause immunity to specific questions. Accordingly, a stay or injunction is not necessary to safeguard the Senator’s Speech or Debate Clause immunity,” the order reads. With no legal recourse left, Graham will have to appear in Georgia, but no timeline is set for that yet.
It’s not the only case before the justices regarding Trump. This morning, Chief Justice John Roberts issued a similar temporary order halting the release of the former president’s taxes to a congressional committee that had subpoenaed them. The full court will now review evidence in that case.