Supreme Court blocks House subpoena to Trump’s accountants pending full appeal
Posted by William A. Jacobson
Much like the immigration travel orders, where Trump consistently lost in the lower courts but won in the Supreme Court, this may be a sign that SCOTUS is prepared to play ‘adult in the room’ again.
The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked a subpoena issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to Trump’s accounting firm, pending a full appeal. So while the Stay is temporary, it likely will last several months until the appeal is decided.
This is part of a full-scale assault by Democrat controlled entities at the federal and state level to obtain (and then leak, of course) Trump’s personal financial and tax information. There is a related petition pending regarding a grand jury subpoena to the same accounting firm from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which presents similar but distinct legal issues.
Here is the Order in :
The application for stay of the mandate presented to The Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is granted. The issuance of the mandate of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, case No. 19-5142, is stayed pending the filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari, if such petition is filed on or before December 5, 2019, by noon. Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate upon the issuance of the judgment of this Court. If no petition for a writ of certiorari is filed on or before December 5, 2019, by noon, the stay shall terminate.
The Application for Stay argued:
This is a case of firsts. It is the first time Congress has subpoenaed the personal records of a President that predate his time in office. It is the first time Congress has issued a subpoena, under its legislative powers, to investigate the President for illegal conduct. And, for the first time, a court has upheld a congressional subpoena to the President for his personal papers. After the decision below, however, any committee of Congress can subpoena any personal information from the President; all the committee needs to say is that it’s considering legislation that would force Presidents to disclose that same information. Given the temptation to dig up dirt on political rivals, intrusive subpoenas into personal lives of Presidents will become our new normal in times of divided government—no matter which party is in power. If every committee chairman is going to have this unbounded authority, this Court should be the one to say so.
It should be unsurprising, then, that the one thing the district court, the panel, and the dissenting judges agree upon is that this case raises important separation-of-powers issues. Yet this Court will not have the opportunity to decide for itself whether the decision warrants review unless a stay pending certiorari is granted. That is because the Oversight Committee, despite voluntarily staying the subpoena for more than six months while this dispute wound its way through the lower courts, is going to enforce the subpoena when the D.C. Circuit’s mandate issues—i.e., when the parties’ agreement expires—unless this Court issues a stay.
There were no dissents from the grant of a stay.
While a grant of stay does not guarantee Trump will win on the merits, it’s surely a good sign that at least 5 Justices think there is something substantial to Trump’s case.
Much like the immigration travel orders, where Trump consistently lost in the lower courts, this may be a sign that SCOTUS is prepared to play ‘adult in the room’ again.