Judge Sets Schedule for House Contempt Suit

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We knew that the House’s lawsuit against White House officials would take awhile. And it turns out that it’ll be June, at the earliest, before a judge makes his first decision in the House’s suit against Harriet Miers and White House chief of staff Josh Bolten.

That relatively rapid pace (for the courts, at least) is the result of the House pushing for quicker resolution of some of the White House’s more expansive claims of executive privilege. The court will decide first whether administration lawyers are right when they say that Miers didn’t even need to show up in response to the House Judiciary Committee’s subpoena and that both Bolten and Miers didn’t even need to indicate what sort of documents the White House were claiming privilege for. Thornier issues (e.g. whether certain conversations that do not involve the president are covered by executive privilege, etc.) would be dealt with later. The House has sought this speedier resolution with the hope that it would mean they’d actually get to hear from Miers and see some documents from Bolten before the close of the Bush administration.

Last Friday, the judge set a schedule for both sides to submit motions and set a hearing for June 23rd when the House’s general counsel and Justice Department lawyers will argue before the judge. But whichever way the judge eventually rules, the decision would likely be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, meaning that regardless of the House’s desire for a speedy resolution, the case is bound to spend a long time in the courts before Congressional investigators see any of its fruits.

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