Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday granted Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) request to temporarily shield the South Carolina Republican from testifying in probe of alleged pro-Trump election interference in Georgia.
The move comes after Graham on Friday filed a request to Thomas, who handles emergency matters arising from Georgia, and follows a ruling by a lower appeals court declining to halt Graham’s testimony before a Fulton County, Ga., special grand jury.
The court this weekend requested a response from Fulton County, which is due on Thursday, so it is likely the Supreme Court will act again in the case soon. Thomas has the option to handle the application himself or refer the matter to the full court.
In court papers filed Friday, Graham urged the court to find that constitutional protections for lawmakers should shield him from being forced to comply with a subpoena issued by District Attorney Fani Willis (D).
Graham’s emergency application came after the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit last week said that questioning of Graham, within certain limits, could proceed.
Willis has expressed interest in phone calls between Graham and Georgia election officials following the 2020 election. Graham contends those calls related to fact-finding for his own vote on certifying of the 2020 election, and that forcing him to answer questions would violate the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause.
“Without a stay, Senator Lindsey Graham will soon be questioned by a local Georgia prosecutor and her ad hoc investigative body about his protected ‘Speech or Debate’ related to the 2020 election,” Graham’s lawyers wrote. “This will occur despite the Constitution’s command that Senators ‘shall not be questioned’ about ‘any Speech or Debate.’”
Updated at 12:58 p.m.