Thanks To Chief Justice Roberts, Bob McDonnell To Stay Out Of Prison ... For Now

The order is only temporary, and it could change once the court hears from federal prosecutors.

In a short order issued Monday, Chief Justice John Roberts spared former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell from prison while he appeals his case to the Supreme Court. 

The request from McDonnell's lawyers arrived at the Supreme Court on Friday in the form of a stay application -- a procedural request that, if granted, can put on hold a lower-court ruling while the case proceeds to a full-on appeal. 

Roberts' order did not express an opinion on the merits of McDonnell's appeal. 

In addition to granting the ex-governor's request, Roberts' order directed the federal prosecutors to file a response to it by Wednesday, after which the court could either issue a new order extending the stay or lift it altogether. If the court lifts the stay, McDonnell would have to report to prison. 

Justices handle emergency requests such as McDonnell's by geographical location. Roberts is assigned to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which covers Virginia. Last week, that court denied McDonnell's bid to keep himself out of prison while he took his case to the Supreme Court. 

The 4th Circuit upheld McDonnell's multiple convictions for corruption and other charges in July.