Chief Justice John Roberts issued a further delay on Tuesday to the House Democratic majority’s four-year-long effort to obtain President Trump’s tax records.
In a short ruling, Roberts temporarily halted the House from accessing the returns.
Roberts ordered the House to reply to Trump by Nov. 10 — two days after the upcoming midterm elections.
With the Democrats likely to lose control of the lower chamber of Congress, the years that the House Ways and Means Committee spent trying to access the records might soon come to an end. The Roberts-issued delay raises the possibility that Trump may successfully run out the clock.
Roberts did not give a reason for the administrative stay, which essentially preserves the status quo in the case.
The Democrats ran in the 2018 midterms in part on a promise that, once in control of at least one chamber of Congress, they would use their newly granted powers to obtain Trump’s tax returns.
Under federal law, Congress’ tax-writing committees are empowered to request the tax records of any filer from the IRS. In the 1970s, Congress did the same with Richard Nixon, and found that he paid less in tax due to favorable treatment from the agency.
Since then, the norm has been for all presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns. Trump was the first candidate since Nixon to ignore that.
Under the chairmanship of Rep. Richie Neal (D-MA), the Ways and Means Committee waited three months before issuing the request to the IRS in April 2019. The request was then mired in a series of Trumpian legal delays that have resulted in years of litigation, with federal judges upholding requests from Trump to block the Biden administration from responding to the request after the 2020 election.
In December 2021, Trump appointee U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden for the District of Columbia ruled that the IRS had to disclose the returns to Congress.
Trump appealed that ruling, and a D.C. circuit panel ruled against him in August. Trump asked for the full appeals court to rehear the case, which led to a unanimous rejection of his bid last week.
Trump then asked the Supreme Court to issue the halt on Monday.