Tim Balk, New York Daily News (TNS)
The Supreme Court’s chief justice on Tuesday temporarily blocked Congress’ efforts to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
The order from Chief Justice John Roberts put a pause on a long-running legal battle over the House Ways and Means Committee’s access to Trump’s tax records.
Trump had appealed Monday for a freeze at the nation’s top court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found the former president had to fork over the tax papers to the congressional committee.
In a brief order, Roberts set a Nov. 10 deadline for the House panel to respond to Trump’s appeal.
The order did not render a verdict on the merit of Trump’s request, merely holding the lower court’s ruling while the Supreme Court reviews the issue.
Susan Low Bloch, a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University, said Roberts’ order was unsurprising and indicated the Supreme Court is taking the matter seriously.
She predicted that Roberts will put the issue to the full Supreme Court, noting criticism the court has received for its use of the so-called Shadow Docket, a term that refers to emergency decisions the court makes without oral argument.
“I think it is likely that the Supreme Court will review it,” Bloch said. “Roberts would want to avoid more of that criticism.”
Dylan Peachey, a spokeswoman for the Ways and Means Committee, issued a statement saying the panel “maintains the law is on our side, and will file a timely response as requested.”
Peachey added in the statement that the chairman of the committee, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), looks forward to the Supreme Court’s “expeditious consideration.”
A lawyer for Trump, Cameron Norris, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In its request to the nation’s top court, the former president’s legal team said the House panel’s aim in asking the Internal Revenue Service for six years’ worth of tax returns was to expose Trump’s tax information to the public “for the sake of exposure.”
Trump broke with modern precedent by declining to release his tax returns during his presidency and as a presidential candidate in 2016.
The House committee, which requested the tax returns in 2019, could be running out of time to get its hands on the documents.
Republicans appear in position to take back the House after next week’s midterm elections, and, if they win, may withdraw the request for Trump’s tax papers after Congress begins its next session in January.
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