In a pivotal decision, a federal appeals court has ruled against former President Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed by writer E. Jean Carroll.
This ruling, denying Trump’s claim of presidential immunity, sets the stage for a potential Supreme Court battle.
Presidential Immunity Waived
A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit concluded that presidential immunity is not an absolute defense and can be waived.
They found that Trump had indeed waived this defense. The decision further diminishes Trump’s attempts to avoid a civil trial scheduled for next month.
Judge José Cabranes, in the 35-page decision, emphasized the significance of this waiver.
“Recognizing presidential immunity as waivable reinforces, not undermines, the separation of powers and the President’s decision-making authority by affording the President an opportunity to litigate if he so chooses,” he wrote.
This ruling challenges the traditional notion of presidential immunity, suggesting a more nuanced interpretation.
Trump’s Legal Team Reacts
Reacting to the decision, Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, labeled the ruling as “fundamentally flawed.” She indicated that the former president’s legal team would seek the Supreme Court’s review of the case.
This move by Trump’s legal team underscores the high stakes and potentially far-reaching implications of the lawsuit.
Carroll’s Accusations and Ongoing Legal Battle
E. Jean Carroll, a renowned advice columnist, has accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s at a New York City department store.
Despite Trump’s vehement denials, the case has seen significant developments. Earlier this year, a jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll, although not for rape, and ordered him to pay $5 million in damages.
Carroll is now pursuing a second trial, focusing on defamation due to Trump’s initial denials of her accusations.
Implications for Upcoming Trial
The 2nd Circuit’s ruling supports a previous decision by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is set to oversee the upcoming trial. Scheduled to begin on January 16, right after the Republican Iowa caucuses, the trial will determine the extent of damages Trump must pay. This timing adds a layer of political intrigue to the legal proceedings.
Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan (no relation to Judge Kaplan), expressed satisfaction with the appellate court’s decision. “We are pleased that the Second Circuit affirmed Judge Kaplan’s rulings and that we can now move forward with trial next month on January 16,” she stated.
Legal battle at critical juncture
The appeals court’s decision marks a critical juncture in the ongoing legal battle between Trump and Carroll. As the case moves potentially toward the Supreme Court, it highlights the evolving legal landscape regarding presidential immunity and its limits.
The upcoming trial, amidst the backdrop of political events, promises to be a closely watched legal and political event.