President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court Thursday to block a subpoena for his financial documents, arguing that the House exceeded its authority when it ordered Trump’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA to turn over his personal records.
The justices have already put a temporary freeze on the subpoena while they consider in the coming days and weeks whether to take up the appeal.
The fate of Trump’s attempts on multiple front to shield his financial records is now squarely before the highest court in the land.
The justices have already said they will meet behind closed doors on December 13 to discuss a similar petition concerning a New York grand jury subpoena for Trump’s tax returns. In addition, Trump’s lawyers are likely to appeal a separate case they lost concerning a subpoena to Deutsche Bank for similar documents. Until the court acts one way or another, the documents will not be released.
In the new filing, Jay Sekulow, one of the President’s personal lawyers, argues that “profoundly serious constitutional questions” are at stake and that the “core of the controversy” concerns whether “Congress can exercise dominion and control over the Office of the President.”
Sekulow also stresses the courts should step in because the President is not an “ordinary litigant” and he deserves “special solicitude.”
The filing stresses Trump’s belief that a lower court was wrong to allow the subpoena to go forward.
“It is the first time Congress has ever subpoenaed the personal records of a sitting President, and it is the first time a congressional demand for any presidential records has been upheld,” Sekulow wrote.
The latest petition reaches the Supreme Court in the middle of a momentous term where the justices are already hearing cases on abortion, immigration, the 2nd Amendment and LGBT rights.
If the court is going to hear a case concerning the President’s financial records this term, the justices will likely have to act by mid-January. That would tee up a major separation of powers dispute and land the court in the middle of a contentious fight between the other two branches of government – during the middle of a presidential election.
The issue will be further complicated by the fact that Chief Justice John Roberts, who has led the court’s charge to stay out of the political fray, will have to preside over a likely Senate impeachment trial. Roberts will be also forced to navigate carefully, balancing his conservative instincts against his institutional concerns for the reputation of the court that bears his name.
A federal appeals court ruled against the President in October, holding that it detected “no inherent constitutional flaw in laws requiring Presidents to publicly disclose certain financial information.”
The subpoena, the court ruled, seeks information that could lead Congress to change or amend its financial disclosure laws.