Supreme Court blocks congressional subpoenas for Trump's financial records


YinYang/iStockBy DEVIN DWYER, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked subpoenas from congressional Democrats for President Donald Trump's financial records.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in a 7-2 opinion, reversed a lower court decision upholding four congressional subpoenas for the records, saying that it failed to adequately account for "weighty concerns regarding the separation of powers."

Roberts returned the case to lower courts to reexamine the subpoenas in light of those concerns, not ruling out the possibility that the House subpoenas could be enforced in the future but delaying, for now, the prospect that the documents will be turned over to Democrats before the November election.

"For more than two centuries, the political branches have resolved information disputes using the wide variety of means that the Constitution puts at their disposal. The nature of such interactions would be transformed by judicial enforcement of either of the approaches suggested by the parties, eroding a “[d]eeply embedded traditional way[] of conducting government.” Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co., 343 U. S., at 610 (Frankfurter, J., concurring). A balanced approach is necessary, one that takes a “considerable impression” from “the practice of the government,” McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 401 (1819); see Noel Canning, 573 U. S., at 524–526, and “resist[s]” the “pressure inherent within each of the separate Branches to exceed the outer limits of its power,” INS v. Chadha, 462 U. S. 919, 951 (1983), Roberts wrote.

"We therefore conclude that, in assessing whether a subpoena directed at the President’s personal information is “related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of the Congress,” Watkins, 354 U. S., at 187, courts must perform a careful analysis that takes adequate account of the separation of powers principles at stake, including both the significant legislative interests of Congress and the “unique position” of the President, Clinton, 520 U. S., at 698 (internal quotation marks omitted). Several special considerations inform this analysis," Roberts wrote for the majority.

"Congressional subpoenas for information from the President, however, implicate special concerns regarding the separation of powers. The courts below did not take adequate account of those concerns. The judgments of the Courts of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit and the Second Circuit are vacated, and the cases are remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion," he wrote.

Despite the court ruling against House Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cast it as a victory for congressional oversight of the president.

"A careful reading of the Supreme Court rulings related to the President’s financial records is not good news for President Trump," she said in a statement.

“The Court has reaffirmed the Congress’s authority to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people, as it asks for further information from the Congress. Congress’s constitutional responsibility to uncover the truth continues, specifically related to the President’s Russia connection that he is hiding," she said.

"We will continue to press our case in the lower courts,” she added.

In a separate but related case handed down just minutes before, Roberts, writing for a 7-2 majority, said Trump did not have immunity from subpoenas for his tax returns for his tax returns and other financial records sought by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in a grand jury investigation.

This is developing story. Please check back for updates.

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