Leahy Starts Formal Process that Could Lead to a Contempt Citation for Karl Rove and Others

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has formally determined that Karl Rove, John Bolten, former White House political director Sara Taylor and her deputy, J. Scott Jennings, are in violation of the Senate subpoenas and must comply “immediately” or face legal consequences.

Leahy stated: “I hereby rule that those claims are not legally valid to excuse current and former White House employees from appearing, testifying and producing documents related to this investigation.” This ruling would allow the matter to go to the Senate.Notably, Leahy found that Bush was not involved in the firing of U.S. Attorneys. This helped undermine the claim of executive privilege. 

The early congresses were more likely to use contempt power. They did so in cases like Robert Randall in 1795 who was accused of bribing a member and, in 1800, with newspaper editor William Duane who refused to answer questions before the Senate.

The Supreme Court has held congressional committees must satisfy three conditions to have enforceable subpoenas. First, the investigation must be properly authorized by Congress. Second, it must have a “a valid legislative purpose;” and third, the specific inquiries must be relevant to the subject matter area under investigation. Those conditions appear met here.

If these conditions are met the courts tend to defer to Congress. Thus, the Court in Eastland v. United States Servicemen said that such subpoena fall under the powerful Speech and Debate clause, which affords “an absolute bar to judicial interference.”

Thus, the Senate appears on good footing for a court fight. The question is not legal but political support.

4 thoughts on “Leahy Starts Formal Process that Could Lead to a Contempt Citation for Karl Rove and Others”

  1. Unlike the ranking minority member, Leahy has it in him to actually press this to a vote.

    it is not good to wish ill of others, but it is good to fulfill one’s constitutional obligations and the Congress has allowed itself to be literally trampled on by the Executive, so I do wish that contempt citations be issued for at least 4 past and current Administration figures.

    We should at least make a showing that the Congress deserves its Article I position and that we are, still, a nation of laws.

    Perhaps the self-imposed restraints that the Dems labor under not to embark on actions that will cascade to situations where impeachment becomes all but mandatory, can be lifted finally and the Senatorial Democrats rescue themselves from what promises to be severe judgement in the history books for their calculated inaction so far.

  2. Would you mind if I,you know, flip off the relatively obscure
    ‘Limit6’ federal evidentiary exclamatory o’blog rule and be o’bscenely contemptible, here?

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