Mazars Is a Victory for Rule of Law
All of this sounds reasonable enough. Yet there is a great deal of precedent establishing Congress’s authority to investigate as extraordinarily broad—so much so that every single lower court that considered the subpoenas at issue in Mazars came down in favor of Congress before the case slammed into a wall at the Supreme Court. From one one point of view, the high court’s ruling suggests a road map for how legislators might craft subpoenas that will withstand judicial scrutiny. From another, though, it’s both constraining and condescending. Mazars “basically tells Congress that it needs to do homework in just the precise way that the Court wants it to, or it can’t oversee the president,” Josh Chafetz, a law professor and scholar of Congress, told me. “This is both wildly pro-presidential and dismissively anti-Congress.”
In both Vance and Mazars, the Supreme Court passed the cases back down to the lower courts to reconsider in light of Thursday’s rulings. It’s not quite clear what will happen next, or on what timeline. The Manhattan district attorney may well obtain the financial documents from Mazars sooner rather than later, but laws protecting grand-jury secrecy mean that the public likely will not learn the contents soon. Meanwhile, as both David Graham and David Frum have noted, the plodding pace of litigation means that courts are unlikely to hand Trump’s records over to Congress before the November election. So whatever may be hiding in those documents, voters will not have the benefit of ...
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