Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » SUBPOENA POWER

SUBPOENA POWER

Filed at 7:09 am under by dcobranchi

is meaningless if officials feel free to ignore the subpoenas. Hold them in contempt and lock ’em up.

16 Responses to “SUBPOENA POWER”


Comment by
Skip Oliva
July 14th, 2007
at 9:33 am

I disagree. Congress has no constitutional authority to subpoena individuals or demand that anyone appear before it (aside from its own members.) Congress is a legislative body, not a part of the judiciary.


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
July 14th, 2007
at 9:50 am

The SCOTUS settled that one 80 years ago.

Congress can subpoena witnesses, or force them to testify under oath, before its committees. This authority comes from the Constitution’s grant to Congress of “all legislative powers” (Article 1, Section 1). Witnesses are subpoenaed to provide information that will assist committees in preparing legislation. In the case of Mc-Grain v. Daugherty (1927), the Supreme Court recognized that Congress could subpoena even private citizens to testify. The Court noted that since not everyone would volunteer needed information, “some means of compulsion are essential to obtain what is needed.” Witnesses who refuse to respond to a congressional subpoena, or refuse to give information (unless they invoke their 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination) may be found in contempt of Congress and sent to prison.

There is no question that Congress has subpoena powers as part of its function of providing oversight on the Executive Branch. The problem is that any contempt citation would normally be enforced by the D.C. USA. The DoJ has been thoroughly corrupted (and politicized) and I have little faith that the USA would do his job. Congress does have one other option, though– Inherent Contempt. By finding Miers in Inherent Contempt of Congress the House Sergeant at Arms, assisted by the Capitol Police, would arrest her and hold her until such time as she complied with the subpoena or until the current Congressional session ends in January ’09.

Inherent Contempt hasn’t had to be used in over 80 years.


Comment by
Nance Confer
July 14th, 2007
at 10:07 am

Can we lock ’em all up under “inherent contempt?” Before they do any more harm.

Nance


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
July 14th, 2007
at 10:35 am

Unfortunately their contempt for the American people is not actionable.

And, speaking of Contempt of Congress, here’s some more info.


Comment by
COD
July 14th, 2007
at 10:56 am

I’m with Nance.


Comment by
Lisa Giebitz
July 14th, 2007
at 11:06 am

I look at it this way: In theory (and in the best of times), Congress represents the ‘People of the United States’. It’s become obvious that a lot of the People are pretty upset and confused about what exactly has been going on in the Executive Branch over the past several year. Thus, Congress as our representative body has a duty to investigate and take action as needed.

The Executive Branch needs to be accountable to the People and the only meaningful way to do it is through Congress.

That’s just some of my armchair poli-sci, though. 🙂


Comment by
Skip Oliva
July 14th, 2007
at 12:25 pm

The Supreme Court says lots of things, Daryl. It doesn’t make it constitutional. Just a few weeks ago, the Court effectively said students have no free speech rights in school. Are you endorsing that position now, or do you only cite Supreme Court decisions when they’re convenient to your anti-Republicanism?

As for the DOJ, what do you mean by “corrupted” and “politicized”? As compared to when? As you know, I study the DOJ’s Antitrust Division pretty closely. Prosecutors have been running amok there for years, but I wouldn’t call it corrupt or political. They’re actually doing the (unconstitutional) work authorized by law. If anything, more politicization would curb some of the excesses of career staff.

But again, that doesn’t aid and abet your maniacal hatred of the current White House, so nevermind. (And no, that’s not a defense of the Republicans; but if your Democratic pals were so great, why are they wasting time with subpoenas–they can end the war and impeach the president right now, but they lack the moral and intellectual character to do so.)


Comment by
Skip Oliva
July 14th, 2007
at 12:37 pm

BTW, if you endorse the Court’s view that Congress’s legislative power allows it to force–under penalty of imprisonment–individuals “to provide information that will assist committees in preparing legislation,” then you accept the basic premises of dictatorship. After all, Congress has the authority to raise an army, so obviously conscription is fine. Heck, since Congress can establish a Post Office, it can force people to deliver the mail. I just want to know where you’re going to draw the line. (We know the answer — when Republicans do it!)

I’m not surprised by your view, since you’ve already endorsing enslaving medical care providers (aka “national health care”) and government censorship of the Internet (“net neutrality”).


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
July 14th, 2007
at 1:09 pm

Skip,

Your basic premise is flawed. You wrote, “Congress is a legislative body, not a part of the judiciary.” When it comes to oversight of the Executive, Congress is indeed acting in a judicial role. The Constitution is explicit here:

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment…

The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors…

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Conviction, trial, judgment, punishment– all terms normally applied to the judiciary. And just as District Attorneys (and defense attorneys) have subpoena power in criminal matters, so too does Congress when it is investigating possible crimes in the Executive Branch.

Do you want to re-argue Marbury v. Madison, too? Congressional subpoena power is nearly as well established as is judicial review.

As to the politicization of the DoJ, have you been following the USA’s case? Some were fired for not filing politically charged (and bogus) charges against Democrats in time to sway the recent elections. And some of them were fired for too aggressively pursuing corrupt Republicans.

The Rule of Law is broken at the DoJ.


Comment by
Nance Confer
July 14th, 2007
at 4:13 pm

(And no, that’s not a defense of the Republicans; but if your Democratic pals were so great, why are they wasting time with subpoenas–they can end the war and impeach the president right now, but they lack the moral and intellectual character to do so.)
***
From your mouth. . .

I thought the soldiers in this video linked at the DailyKos earlier today had some helpful insights:

guardi...page/0,,2125978,00.html

Nance


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
July 14th, 2007
at 4:30 pm

I have no doubt that Bush has earned impeachment a dozen times over, Two reasons, though, for the Dems not to go that route (yet). 1) Republicans would never vote against Bush even if he were found in bed with a dead girl or a live boy and 2) Even if they could impeach Bush do we really want President Cheney? We’d be at war with Iran 15 seconds after he was sworn in.

Impeach Cheney first. Then impeach Bush before confirming a new VP.


Comment by
Nance Confer
July 14th, 2007
at 6:08 pm

Either way works for me. 🙂

Nance


Comment by
Ulrike
July 14th, 2007
at 11:56 pm

Saw the title and thought this was going to be another post about Mimi. 😛


Comment by
JJ Ross
July 15th, 2007
at 10:50 am

They’d better lock us all up. I am DEFINITELY in Contempt of Congress.


Comment by
JJ Ross
July 15th, 2007
at 11:19 am

NPR’s Morning Edition, July 9, 2007 · . . .Democrats took office in January with a 43 percent approval rating, which has now dropped below 30 percent. The biggest drop is among Democrats. The most disaffected are independents.

The AP poll this week puts Congressional approval down to 24% and the current president, hated though he is to Clintonian-impeachment depths,with a public approval rating about 33% (other polls put it at 29%.)

So there’s plenty of Contempt to go around and deservedly so, especially imo for continuing to quarrel amongst themselves and plot against each other in domestic wargames, instead of working to turn things around for US in the real world.


Comment by
Unique
July 15th, 2007
at 5:17 pm

I’m with Daryl re: the Law.

******Congress can subpoena witnesses, or force them to testify under oath, before its committees. This authority comes from the Constitution’s grant to Congress of “all legislative powers” (Article 1, Section 1).**********