RELEASE: By Granting Without Expediting Review, Supreme Court Threatens to Hand President Trump “De Facto Victory” in Mueller Grand Jury Case
WASHINGTON – On news that the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Department of Justice v. House Committee on Judiciary—without indicating an intent to ensure review is completed well before this session of Congress is concluded—CAC President Elizabeth Wydra issued the following statement:
The Court today may have handed President Trump a de facto victory in his battle to shield the full, unredacted Mueller report from Congress. The only way the Court can make its own consideration of this case meaningful is to expedite review so President Trump doesn’t win by simply running out the clock.
In the first instance, the Court should have declined to hear this case at all and allowed the ruling of the D.C. Circuit to stand, which permitted the House Judiciary Committee to see the portions of the Mueller report that were redacted as grand jury materials. The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure clearly allow those portions of the report to be forwarded to the Committee. Meanwhile, there is no disagreement among the Circuit Courts of Appeal for the Justices to resolve.
That said, having decided to grant review, the Court has a duty to expedite the process to ensure a resolution of this question well before the conclusion of this session of Congress. The House is not a continuing body. The current Congress ends on Jan. 3, 2021. On that day, its current investigations will end, its subpoenas will expire, and a new Congress will be sworn in.
Even though the Court has expedited review in cases before—such as U.S. v. Nixon, which the Justices resolved in a month—and has adapted its processes even this term to the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court has not yet indicated that it is going to expedite this case. If it does not expedite, oral argument can be expected sometime this fall, with an opinion likely delivered sometime in the spring—well after the current Congress will have been adjourned.
If that expected schedule stands, it is entirely unacceptable and undermines the importance of the Court. Today’s decision threatens to hand President Trump a victory by default, allowing him to run out the clock on this Congress and hampering its ability to exercise its longstanding power to investigate and hold the executive branch of our government accountable to the law.
“The Supreme Court Has to Choose Between Trump and the Rule of Law,” Ashwin Phatak, Slate, June 9, 2020: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/06/supreme-court-trump-vs-rule-of-law.html
CAC case page for In re: Application of the Committee on the Judiciary: https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/in-re-application-of-the-committee-on-the-judiciary/
Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit CAC’s website at www.theusconstitution.org.