Coronavirus has forced people, businesses, and the government to change in ways most never expected. The idea of a wicked disease rolling across the county and killing nearly 82,000 Americans is alien. Even the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard arguments via a teleconference.
Specifically, SCOTUS heard arguments over Congress’ request for Donald Trump’s tax returns and subpoena authority in the Trump v. Mazars case. It was a narrow line to walk. They did not want a president above the law or a legislator such as Senate Joseph (R-WV) McCarthy who was a born-again Republican. With the fervor of other born-agains, McCarthy was ever on the hunt for secret communists.
The Supreme Court appeared to favor the reach for Donald Trump’s tax documents as opposed to the extended subpoena reach of Congress. Yet, in the midst of the hearing, Justice Brett Kavanaugh offered an “odd hypothetical,” according to C-Span.
Representing the House of Representatives before the Congress, Douglas Letter spoke about why it should enforce a subpoena for the president’s business tax records:
‘You could demand that the executive branch show that its reason for seeking something outweighs the executive privilege claim, but here, we are not dealing with executive privilege at all. These are financial business records. It is difficult to see how these could come within that kind of balance that would override Congress’s authority to do investigations.’
Referring to Nixon v. Fitzgerald, Letter argued that presidential immunity was going too far for certain claims. However, he argued that Congress was still responsible by law for Executive Branch oversight:
‘Where this court said the president has immunity from certain kinds of claims, the court said that one of the reasons that is okay is because we have congressional oversight of the president. This court specifically used that to justify absolute immunity for the president in other areas.’
Then, Letter cited Clinton v. Jones. At that point, Kavanaugh jumped into the argument with an odd hypothetical:
‘Can I interrupt, what about medical records?’
Letter agreed that medical records might not be pertinent. Once again, Kavanaugh interrupted him. This time, the attorney admitted that these records would “be irrelevant:”
‘I am having difficulty thinking of a hypothetical where, if Congress is examining and deciding on amendments to the Affordable Care Act, how the president’s personal medical records would be relevant to that. The most important public health statute of many decades, I do not think would be affected by that at all.’
Then, Letter continued:
‘’I’m sure we can come up with some odd hypotheticals where presidential health would clearly be relevant. It may be changing the statutes that involve the succession of when a president becomes incapacitated — something like that, I suppose. In general, Congress, there’d be no valid reason for Congress to ask for the president’s personal medical records that I can think of.’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
The Mueller Report Adventures: In Bite-Sizes on this Facebook page. These quick, two-minute reads interpret the report in normal English for busy people. Mueller Bite-Sizes uncovers what is essentially a compelling spy mystery. Interestingly enough, Mueller Bite-Sizes can be read in any order.