Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday temporarily put on hold a requirement that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., testify in a Georgia prosecutor's probe of allegations of interference in the 2020 election by former President Donald Trump and his allies.
The decision by Thomas, who handles emergency requests that arise from Georgia, freezes the litigation while the justices weigh Graham's plea that the Supreme Court quash the subpoena. Thomas had asked lawyers for the Fulton County District Attorney's Office to respond to Graham's request by close of business Thursday. Thomas can handle the application by himself, although generally such issues get referred to the full nine-justice court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority.
Last week, the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Graham's attempt to avoid answering questions about two phone calls he made to Georgia election officials after the 2020 election because, he argued, his actions were protected under the Constitution’s speech and debate clause.
Graham's lawyers argued in a request filed last week that the court needs to step in or else Graham's “constitutional immunities will be lost, and his statutorily guaranteed appeal mooted, the moment the local Georgia prosecutor questions him.”
As an influential member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Graham helped ensure that Trump was able to make three appointments to the Supreme Court. His legal team is led by Don McGahn, Trump's former White House counsel.
The court often issues temporary "administrative" stays in cases involving emergency applications. It does not mean the justices will grant Graham's request once the briefing is completed.
Thomas has faced scrutiny over his participation in cases concerning the 2020 election because his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, has questioned the results of the presidential election and given testimony to the House committee investigating Trump supporters' Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.