Congressional Oversight and the Supreme Court

The Story:

On Monday March 16, the US Supreme Court postponed the oral arguments it had planned to hear throughout the remainder of the month. At least one of the cases with a now-delayed argument has explosive political implications: Trump v. Mazars had been slated for March 31. That dispute turns on whether a committee of the House of Representatives has the authority (under what is known as the legislature’s “oversight” function) to issue a subpoena to the firm that does the President’s personal and business accounting, to obtain private financial records concerning POTUS’ taxes.


It isn’t only the House; New York State prosecutors are also seeking records from Mazars, the accounting firm. President Trump and his lawyers are seeking to block Mazars from complying with these subpoenas.

With regard to the House subpoena in particular, that effort, if successful, may constitute a severe blow to the old notion that Congress is and should be empowered to check and balance the executive.

The Thing to Know:

A spokeswoman for the Court said that the delays are “in keeping with public health precautions” given the ongoing spread of the Coronavirus. The arguments will be rescheduled “in due course.” Justices are planning to hold their regularly scheduled March 20 conference by telephone.


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