SCOTUS rules on subpoenas of Trump financial records (Update: 2d Cir. rules against Trump) (1 Viewer)

superchuck500

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In the criminal grand jury case (Vance - the New York case), the SCOTUS rules that a sitting president is not immune from a state grand jury request. It is a 7-2 opinion (with Roberts joining the 'liberals' and Gorsuch and Kavanaugh concurring). Case is remanded for resolution based on "defenses available" to any person subject to that kind of subpoena.

 
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superchuck500

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The House subpoenas of Trump financial records from Mazars (his accountants) will be next. Roberts will be the author.
 
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superchuck500

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Both of these rulings mean that there will be no financial records turned over before additional litigation.
 

JRad

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In the criminal grand jury case (Vance - the New York case), the SCOTUS rules that a sitting president is not immune from a state grand jury request. It is a 7-2 opinion (with Roberts joining the 'liberals' and Gorsuch and Kavanaugh concurring). Case is remanded for resolution based on "defenses available" to any person subject to that kind of subpoena.

Good. I can understand the President having some degree of protections, but to have totally unchecked power is absurd.
 

MT15

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Basically, the SC wimped out?

Some of the younger pathologists are fond of equivocation. A tumor “might be malignant, or it could possibly be benign” and kick it back to the physician in the case to truly make the call. As a wise pathologist once told me, he gets paid to make the tough calls. It is literally his job to make that call.
 
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superchuck500

superchuck500

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Basically, the SC wimped out?

Some of the younger pathologists are fond of equivocation. A tumor “might be malignant, or it could possibly be benign” and kick it back to the physician in the case to truly make the call. As a wise pathologist once told me, he gets paid to make the tough calls. It is literally his job to make that call.

That’s not how the judiciary operates
 

MT15

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I’m trying to not be cynical. I’m not succeeding right now.
 

wardorican

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This is from the Syllabus.

TRUMP ET AL. v. MAZARS USA, LLP, ET AL. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT No. 19–715. Argued May 12, 2020—Decided July 9, 2020* In April 2019, three committees of the U. S. House of Representatives issued four subpoenas seeking information about the finances of President Donald J. Trump, his children, and affiliated businesses. The House Committee on Financial Services issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank seeking any document related to account activity, due diligence, foreign transactions, business statements, debt schedules, statements of net worth, tax returns, and suspicious activity identified by Deutsche Bank. It issued a second subpoena to Capital One for similar information. The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank that mirrored the subpoena issued by the Financial Services Committee. And the House Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a subpoena to the President’s personal accounting firm, Mazars USA, LLP, demanding information related to the President and several affiliated businesses. Although each of the committees sought overlapping sets of financial documents, each supplied different justifications for the requests, explaining that the information would help guide legislative reform in areas ranging from money laundering and terrorism to foreign involvement in U. S. elections. Petitioners—the President in his personal capacity, along with his children and affiliated businesses—contested the subpoena issued by the Oversight Committee in the District Court for the District of Columbia (Mazars, No. 19–715) and the subpoenas issued by the Financial Services and Intelligence Committees in the Southern District of New York (Deutsche Bank, No. 19–760). In both cases, petitioners contended that the subpoenas lacked a legitimate legislative purpose and violated the separation of powers. The President did not, however, argue that any of the requested records were protected by executive privilege.

In Mazars, the District Court granted judgment for the House and the D. C. Circuit affirmed, finding that the subpoena issued by the Oversight Committee served a valid legislative purpose because the requested information was relevant to reforming financial disclosure requirements for Presidents and presidential candidates. In Deutsche Bank, the District Court denied a preliminary injunction and the Second Circuit affirmed in substantial part, holding that the Intelligence Committee properly issued its subpoena to Deutsche Bank as part of an investigation into alleged foreign influence in the U. S. political process, which could inform legislation to strengthen national security and combat foreign meddling. The court also concluded that the subpoenas issued by the Financial Services Committee to Deutsche Bank and Capital One were adequately related to potential legislation on money laundering, terrorist financing, and the global movement of illicit funds through the real estate market.

Held: The courts below did not take adequate account of the significant separation of powers concerns implicated by congressional subpoenas for the President’s information. Pp. 7–20.

(a) Historically, disputes over congressional demands for presidential documents have been resolved by the political branches through negotiation and compromise without involving this Court. The Court recognizes that this dispute is the first of its kind to reach the Court; that such disputes can raise important issues concerning relations between the branches; that similar disputes recur on a regular basis, including in the context of deeply partisan controversy; and that Congress and the Executive have nonetheless managed for over two centuries to resolve these disputes among themselves without Supreme Court guidance. Such longstanding practice “‘is a consideration of great weight’ ” in cases concerning “the allocation of power between [the] two elected branches of Government,” and it imposes on the Court a duty of care to ensure that it does not needlessly disturb “the compromises and working arrangements” reached by those branches. NLRB v. Noel Canning, 573 U. S. 513, 524–526 (quoting The Pocket Veto Case, 279 U. S. 655, 689). Pp. 7–11.

(b) Each House of Congress has the power “to secure needed information” in order to legislate. McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U. S. 135, 161. This power is “indispensable” because, without information, Congress would be unable to legislate wisely or effectively. Watkins v. United States, 354 U. S. 178, 215. Because this power is “justified solely as an adjunct to the legislative process,” it is subject to several limitations. Id., at 197. Most importantly, a congressional subpoena is valid only if it is “related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of the Congress.” Id., at 187. The subpoena must serve a “valid legislative purpose.” Quinn v. United States, 349 U. S. 155, 161. Furthermore, Congress may not issue a subpoena for the purpose of “law enforcement,” because that power is assigned to the Executive and the Judiciary. Ibid. Finally, recipients of congressional subpoenas retain their constitutional rights and various privileges throughout the course of an investigation. Pp. 11–12.

(c) The President contends, as does the Solicitor General on behalf of the United States, that congressional subpoenas for the President’s information should be evaluated under the standards set forth in United States v. Nixon, 418 U. S. 683, and Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Nixon, 498 F. 2d 725, which would require the House to show that the requested information satisfies a “demonstrated, specific need,” 418 U. S., at 713, and is “demonstrably critical” to a legislative purpose, 498 F. 2d, at 731. Nixon and Senate Select Committee, however, involved subpoenas for communications between the President and his close advisers, over which the President asserted executive privilege. Because executive privilege safeguards the public interest in candid, confidential deliberations within the Executive Branch, information subject to the privilege deserves “the greatest protection consistent with the fair administration of justice.” 418 U. S., at 715. That protection should not be transplanted root and branch to cases involving nonprivileged, private information, which by definition does not implicate sensitive Executive Branch deliberations. The standards proposed by the President and the Solicitor General— if applied outside the context of privileged information—would risk seriously impeding Congress in carrying out its responsibilities, giving short shrift to its important interests in conducting inquiries to obtain information needed to legislate effectively. Pp. 12–14.

(d) The approach proposed by the House, which relies on precedents that did not involve the President’s papers, fails to take adequate account of the significant separation of powers issues raised by congressional subpoenas for the President’s information. The House’s approach would leave essentially no limits on the congressional power to subpoena the President’s personal records. A limitless subpoena power could transform the established practice of the political branches and allow Congress to aggrandize itself at the President’s expense. These separation of powers concerns are unmistakably implicated by the subpoenas here, which represent not a run-of-the-mill legislative effort but rather a clash between rival branches of government over records of intense political interest for all involved. The interbranch conflict does not vanish simply because the subpoenas seek personal papers or because the President sued in his personal capacity Nor are separation of powers concerns less palpable because the subpoenas were issued to third parties. Pp. 14–18.

(e) Neither side identifies an approach that adequately accounts for these weighty separation of powers concerns. A balanced approach is necessary, one that takes a “considerable impression” from “the practice of the government,” McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 401, and “resist” the “pressure inherent within each of the separate Branches to exceed the outer limits of its power,” INS v. Chadha, 462 U. S. 919, 951. In assessing whether a subpoena directed at the President’s personal information is “related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of the Congress,” Watkins, 354 U. S., at 187, courts must take adequate account of the separation of powers principles at stake, including both the significant legislative interests of Congress and the unique position of the President.

Several special considerations inform this analysis. First, courts should carefully assess whether the asserted legislative purpose warrants the significant step of involving the President and his papers. “ ‘[O]ccasion for constitutional confrontation between the two branches’ should be avoided whenever possible.” Cheney v. United States Dist. Court for D. C., 542 U. S. 367, 389–390 (quoting Nixon, 418 U. S., at 692). Congress may not rely on the President’s information if other sources could reasonably provide Congress the information it needs in light of its particular legislative objective. Second, to narrow the scope of possible conflict between the branches, courts should insist on a subpoena no broader than reasonably necessary to support Congress’s legislative objective. The specificity of the subpoena’s request “serves as an important safeguard against unnecessary intrusion into the operation of the Office of the President.” Cheney, 542 U. S., at 387. Third, courts should be attentive to the nature of the evidence offered by Congress to establish that a subpoena advances a valid legislative purpose. The more detailed and substantial, the better. That is particularly true when Congress contemplates legislation that raises sensitive constitutional issues, such as legislation concerning the Presidency. Fourth, courts should assess the burdens imposed on the President by a subpoena, particularly because they stem from a rival political branch that has an ongoing relationship with the President and incentives to use subpoenas for institutional advantage. Other considerations may be pertinent as well; one case every two centuries does not afford enough experience for an exhaustive list. Pp. 18–20.

No. 19–715, 940 F. 3d 710; No. 19–760, 943 F. 3d 627, vacated and remanded.

ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, GORSUCH, and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined.
 

wardorican

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BTW, that was all for the House of Reps case.

This is a key point, I think.

We have never addressed a congressional subpoena for the President’s information. Two hundred years ago, it was established that Presidents may be subpoenaed during a federal criminal proceeding, United States v. Burr, 25 F. Cas. 30 (No. 14,692d) (CC Va. 1807) (Marshall, Cir. J.), and earlier today we extended that ruling to state criminal proceedings, Trump v. Vance, ante, p. ___. Nearly fifty years ago, we held that a federal prosecutor could obtain information from a President despite assertions of executive privilege, United States v. Nixon, 418 U. S. 683 (1974), and more recently we ruled that a private litigant could subject a President to a damages suit and appropriate discovery obligations in federal court, Clinton v. Jones, 520 U. S. 681 (1997).

This case is different. Here the President’s information is sought not by prosecutors or private parties in connection with a particular judicial proceeding, but by committees of Congress that have set forth broad legislative objectives. Congress and the President—the two political branches established by the Constitution—have an ongoing relationship that the Framers intended to feature both rivalry and reciprocity. See The Federalist No. 51, p. 349 (J. Cooke ed. 1961) (J. Madison); Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U. S. 579, 635 (1952) (Jackson, J., concurring). That distinctive aspect necessarily informs our analysis of the question before us.

Even Alito's dissent is that these kind of subpoenas shouldn't be barred, like Thomas suggests, but that they should be treated with suspension and that congress needs to explicitly state what legislative item they're addressing. Looks like if the majority opinion required congress to do this, he'd have joined...

Alito:
Specifically, the House should provide a description of the type of legislation being considered, and while great specificity is not necessary, the description should be sufficient to permit a court to assess whether the particular records sought are of any special importance. The House should also spell out its constitutional authority to enact the type of legislation that it is contemplating, and it should justify the scope of the subpoenas in relation to the articulated legislative needs. In addition, it should explain why the subpoenaed information, as opposed to information available from other sources, is needed. Unless the House is required to make a showing along these lines, I would hold that enforcement of the subpoenas cannot be ordered. Because I find the terms of the Court’s remand inadequate, I must respectfully dissent.
 

wardorican

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In the criminal grand jury case (Vance - the New York case), the SCOTUS rules that a sitting president is not immune from a state grand jury request. It is a 7-2 opinion (with Roberts joining the 'liberals' and Gorsuch and Kavanaugh concurring). Case is remanded for resolution based on "defenses available" to any person subject to that kind of subpoena.

This is the boom. The president can't avoid federal prosecution and requests for paper (unless your AG is your buddy), so you can't for a State either.

I haven't read this one, but that's the basics, right?
 
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superchuck500

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Basically, the SC wimped out?

Some of the younger pathologists are fond of equivocation. A tumor “might be malignant, or it could possibly be benign” and kick it back to the physician in the case to truly make the call. As a wise pathologist once told me, he gets paid to make the tough calls. It is literally his job to make that call.

That’s not how the judiciary operates

The Supreme Court decides the issues that are before it - that are briefed and heard in oral argument. Though it has broad powers to rule on those issues, it is a court of limited jurisdiction. These ideas are reflected in the rules of “justiciabilty” and due process - and a proper ruling from the Supreme Court is intended to determine those justiciable issues properly before the Court, and that’s all.

If aspects of a case aren’t before the Court, it cannot decide them. Those issues have to be litigated through the process. From this perspective, a ruling on an issue and demand for further, proper litigation of other material issues isn’t a “punt” - it’s precisely how the system is supposed to operates.

For example, in the Vance case, the president (and the subpoenaed parties) raised immunity as a bar to production and that issue went all the way up. The Court ruled on that issue. It’s job wasn’t to rule that the records had to (or could not) be released. That wasn’t the issue before the Court - it was only whether a sitting president has immunity from a state grand jury subpoena.
 

MT15

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Thanks, Chuck. So can he just raise a different issue and send it up to the SC? That would be the source of my cynicism. That he will outlast with stalling the will to investigate.
 
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superchuck500

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Thanks, Chuck. So can he just raise a different issue and send it up to the SC? That would be the source of my cynicism. That he will outlast with stalling the will to investigate.

It has to be a legitimate legal dispute - the Court won’t accept a trivial or specious matter.
 

wardorican

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Thanks, Chuck. So can he just raise a different issue and send it up to the SC? That would be the source of my cynicism. That he will outlast with stalling the will to investigate.
In layman's terms, they said specific challenges for specific items can be made, for specific reasons.

i..e what are you objecting to and why?


Link to Trump v Vance.

I think Kavanaugh had a nice write up (and Gorsuch joined). His addition, which may be fair, is that the courts should have also been instructed to add the Nixon V US approach of a "demonstrated, specific need" for the information. I'm not including it all, but it's pretty short.

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superchuck500

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I’m still in the midst of a my move and haven’t been able to digest these opinions. Observers seem to think that both clear the way for Trump’s records to be obtained - though not right away.

The majorities (both 7-2) are interesting.
 

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