By Zachary Stieber
The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 24 blocked a subpoena of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Justice Clarence Thomas, a George H.W. Bush appointee, entered the order.
He stayed the subpoena “pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court.”
Graham asked the nation’s top court on Friday to intervene in the case.
A district judge ordered Graham to testify to a grand jury that is investigating possible illegal interference in the 2020 election, and an appeals court recently upheld the order.
Graham has argued that he is protected by the U.S. Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause.
The appeals court panel partially agreed.
It said that Graham cannot be questioned over his “investigatory fact-finding on telephone calls to Georgia election officials” but can be questioned about other matters, including his contact with Trump campaign officials.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat, has said that Graham possesses “unique knowledge” regarding the Trump campaign’s efforts to influence post-election activities in the county and elsewhere in Georgia.
Graham’s lawyers said a stay was needed to prevent the questioning from happening.
“The district court’s refusal to quash or at least stay this impermissible questioning—and the Eleventh Circuit’s cursory acquiescence, while misquoting the ‘Speech or Debate Clause,’ failing to invoke or apply the standard for a stay, and without so much as mentioning sovereign immunity—cries out for review,” they wrote in the emergency application to Thomas, who fielded the matter because he oversees the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Graham’s “constitutional immunities will be lost, and his statutorily guaranteed appeal mooted, the moment the local Georgia prosecutor questions him,” they added.
Thomas did not say why he stayed the subpoena, but did say he reviewed Graham’s application before deciding to intervene.
Thomas also asked Fulton County officials to respond to Graham’s application by Oct. 27.