SCOTUS Questions Its Own Authority To Decide Trump Financial Doc Cases

CAPITOL HILL, WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 2013/06/01: Supreme Court Building, eastern facade. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Supreme Court Building, eastern facade. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
|
April 27, 2020 10:18 a.m.

In a sign that could spell more trouble for presidential oversight efforts, the Supreme Court on Monday signaled that it was not even sure whether the judicial branch had the authority to settle disputes over congressional subpoenas issued for President Trump’s financial documents.

The court issued an order that the parties in pending blockbuster Trump subpoena cases submit additional briefing papers addressing the question.

“The parties and the Solicitor General are directed to file supplemental letter briefs addressing whether the political question doctrine or related justiciability principles bear on the Courtโ€™s adjudication of these cases,” the order said.

If the Supreme Court ultimately decided that it did not have the authority to resolve the disputes, the effect of such a ruling could cut both ways for the President.

Newsletters
Get TPM in your inbox, twice weekly.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

In the context of these specific cases, it could mean that he could not go to court to block his accounting firm and his banks from producing the subpoenaed documents. But in the long term such a decision would empower Trump’s stonewalling of subpoenas, as Congress would not be able to go to court to force him โ€”or future Presidents โ€”ย  to comply with lawmakers’ subpoenas.

The Supreme Court’s Monday request echoed the logic that a three-judge appellate panel employed earlier this year while refusing to enforce Congress’ subpoena of former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

In that case, the appeals court panel said that the Constitution forbid the judiciary from resolving informational disputes between two branches of government.

That decision โ€” which was panned by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and veterans of previous administrations โ€” is being reviewed by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is holding oral arguments in the case on Tuesday.

The cases in front of the Supreme Court are Trump’s challenges of subpoenas issued by Congress and by New York local prosecutors for documents from his accounting firm and banks. The additional briefing ordered Monday is due on May 8 and the cases’ oral arguments โ€” which will be conducted via teleconference โ€” are scheduled for May 12.

Latest News
Comments are now Members-Only

Non-members are still able to read comments, but will no longer be able to participate. To join the conversation, sign up now and get:

30% Off Annual Prime Membership

TPM strives to build as inclusive a community as financially possible. We offer FREE memberships to those experiencing financial hardship and FREE memberships for students.

View all options
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Audience Development Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: