Supreme Court refuses to expedite Trump records ruling, further delaying House bid to obtain docs

Supreme Court won’t expedite Trump tax return case

The Supreme Court says they won’t expedite House committee cases aimed at getting access to President Trump’s financial records.

The Supreme Court on Monday morning refused a request from the House of Representatives to move up the timeline under which a ruling in a case concerning President Trump's financial records would officially be issued, further delaying House Democrats' quest to get ahold of Trump's documents.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only recorded justice who said she would grant the request, which House Democrats said was necessary because "[t]he Committees' investigations are ongoing, remain urgent, and have been impeded by the lack of finality in these litigations, which were initiated in April 2019." The ruling will come into force on Aug. 3, as originally scheduled.

The Supreme Court earlier this month essentially punted on the case over Trump's financial records, throwing it back down to lower courts with further guidance. If the Supreme Court had agreed to "issue the judgments forthwith" as House Democrats requested, the proceedings in those lower courts could begin sooner.

But it didn't, forcing Democrats to wait a little longer to resume their efforts to access Trump's financial records. The court's ruling earlier this month essentially guaranteed the files would not see the light of day before the presidential election.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in the opinion in the case, said that though the House committees seeking Trump's documents have broad authority to keep an eye on the executive branch, lower courts had not given important issues in the inter-branch dispute enough consideration.

"When Congress seeks information 'needed for intelligent legislative action,' it 'unquestionably' remains 'the duty of all citizens to cooperate,'" he wrote. But, Roberts said, subpoenas from Congress to the president "implicate special concerns regarding the separation of powers. The courts below did not take adequate account of those concerns."

"The court has reaffirmed the Congress' authority to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said after the initial ruling on July 9 as she swore that the House would "continue to press our case in the lower courts."

According to the Supreme Court's rules, the result of a case takes effect 25 days after it announces its judgment, which is the same amount of time it gives litigants to file a request for a rehearing. In the Trump financial records case, that will be Aug. 3. The timeline can be shortened, however, by an individual justice, the court, or if the parties agree to have the mandate come into effect sooner.

That's what happened in a similar case over Trump's financial records, which Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is attempting to get ahold of with a criminal subpoena. Trump, who is continuing to fight against the subpoena in lower courts but with different arguments than the full-immunity plea the Supreme Court slapped down earlier this month, backed Vance's request to "issue the judgments forthwith" so that those proceedings could get underway.

But Trump's lawyers opposed the House request, which was likely why the Supreme Court granted one request and not the other.

"The House’s argument … that its ability to consider legislation is being compromised also rings hollow," Trump's lawyers wrote. "As before, the Committees cannot identify any pending legislative proposal to which the President’s records are relevant—let alone urgently needed. That is unsurprising. There is no indication that the House is even focused on these issues—let alone remotely close to passing legislation."

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