Congress Cannot Sue to Enforce Subpoenas Defied by Executive Branch, Appeals Court Rules

Congress Cannot Sue to Enforce Subpoenas Defied by Executive Branch, Appeals Court Rules

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Friday ruled that Congress cannot sue to enforce its subpoenas of executive branch officials, delivering a major victory to President Trump and undermining the ability of Congress to conduct oversight of the government.

In a two-to-one ruling, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit brought by the House Judiciary Committee against Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, after he defied its subpoena seeking to force him to testify about Mr. Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation.

The court majority ruled that the Constitution gave the House no standing to file such a lawsuit in a dispute over information with the executive branch. If the ruling stands, its reasoning would shut the door to any such lawsuit when presidents direct subordinates not to cooperate with oversight investigations.

“The Committee now seeks to invoke this court’s jurisdiction to enforce its subpoena,” wrote Judge Thomas B. Griffith. The Justice Department “on behalf of McGahn, responds that Article III of the Constitution forbids federal courts from resolving this kind of interbranch information dispute. We agree and dismiss this case.”

This is a developing story. Check back for further updates.

Latest Category Posts