President Donald Trump wasn’t happy when the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that New York prosecutors could take a look at his tax returns, as the Washington Examiner reported. But he’s not the only one who will be licking his wounds this weekend.
According to The New York Times, the Supreme Court issued a separate ruling Thursday that will make it harder for congressional Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), to get their hands on Trump’s financial records. The Times reported that the high court “said the case should be returned to lower courts to examine whether Congress should narrow the parameters of the information it sought.”
“Without limits on its subpoena powers, Congress could ‘exert an imperious controul’ over the Executive Branch and aggrandize itself at the President’s expense, just as the Framers feared,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority’s opinion on the case, according to Politico.
Roberts went on: “Congressional subpoenas for information from the President…implicate special concerns regarding the separation of powers. The courts below did not take adequate account of those concerns.”
President Trump, for his part, reacted to the rulings with rage, arguing in a tweet that the case against him out of New York is “politically corrupt.”
“This is all a political prosecution,” Trump wrote Thursday, as the Examiner reported. “I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!”
The president complained in a later tweet: “Courts in the past have given ‘broad deference.’ BUT NOT ME!”
Giving his rationale for why New York prosecutors have a right to Trump’s financial information, Chief Justice Roberts pointed to the principle that all Americans are bound by the rule of law.
“Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our Court established that no citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding,” he wrote on the majority’s opinion in that case, according to the Examiner.
“We reaffirm that principle today and hold that the president is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need,” Roberts added.
It remains unclear when lower courts will review their prior decisions in the case of Congress’ authority to see Trump’s tax returns. Politico reported Thursday, however, that “[t]he pair of highly anticipated decisions likely mean more delays and court proceedings on both subpoenas, increasing the odds that Trump makes it to the Nov. 3 election without releasing his tax and financial details to the prosecutors and congressional committees demanding them.”
Either way, Justice Clarence Thomas thinks Democrats are in the wrong here — and Trump would surely agree. “I would hold that Congress has no power to issue a legislative subpoena for private, nonofficial documents,” Thomas wrote in a dissenting opinion on the case, according to Fox News, “whether they belong to the President or not.”