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Tipsheet

Clarence Thomas Puts a Hold on Lindsey Graham's Election Testimony

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas temporarily blocked a lower court ruling Monday requiring Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to testify about the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. 

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Last week Graham submitted an emergency request to the Supreme Court asking the Justices to step in after the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ordered him to testify. Graham's attorneys argue his statements about the 2020 presidential election are protected free speech and part of his job as a U.S. Senator.

"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. This will occur despite the Constitution’s command that Senators “shall not be questioned” about 'any Speech or Debate.' U.S. Const. art. I, § 6, cl. 1. It will occur in state court, without the consent of the federal government. And it will undisputedly center on Senator Graham’s official acts—phone calls he made in the course of his official work, in the lead up to the critical vote under the Electoral Count Act," Graham's emergency application for a stay states. "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."

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"This application thus presents an overwhelming case for a stay. For one thing, Senator Graham’s constitutional immunities will be lost, and his statutorily guaranteed appeal mooted, the moment the local Georgia prosecutor questions him," the appeal continues. 

As noted, the stay is temporary and a final decision on whether Graham will be required to give testimony is forthcoming. 

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