Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Democrats' Bid to Access Mueller Grand Jury Material
Should the Supreme Court give Democrats access to the Mueller grand jury material?
by SCOTUS WATCH | 5.20.20
What’s the story?
- The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked an effort by Democrats from the House Judiciary Committee to immediately access secret grand jury testimony & materials from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Donald Trump’s conduct.
- The Dept. of Justice (DOJ) asked the Supreme Court to put a hold on the release of the materials while it appeals a D.C. Circuit Court ruling that would require redacted grand jury transcripts and materials from Mueller’s investigation to be handed over to House Democrats.
- Mueller’s inquiry didn’t find evidence to establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, but stopped short of exonerating the president for obstruction of justice to avoid infringing on congressional impeachment powers. Many passages and footnotes in the Mueller report were redacted because of rules protecting grand jury materials.
- Grand jury materials are ordinarily kept secret to protect the integrity of ongoing investigations and the privacy of people aren’t charged with a crime or are otherwise tangentially connected to the matter under investigation. However, grand jury materials can be released under certain circumstances, including if they would be used “preliminary to or in connection with a judicial proceeding.”
- Democrats argue that the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction and the House’s impeachment power meet that threshold, while the DOJ disagrees with that interpretation.
- In granting the DOJ’s request for a hold and the House Judiciary Committee’s request for expedited consideration of the matter, the Court set a deadline of 5pm on June 1st for the DOJ to file its petition for review of the matter.
What does it mean for the case?
- After the DOJ’s petition is filed, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not it will consider the case on its merits. That decision could come before the currently scheduled conclusion of the present Supreme Court term, which is slated for the end of June.
- If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, arguments will likely be heard during the term beginning on October 4, 2020. Arguments may not occur until after Election Day on November 3, 2020, and a decision may not be forthcoming until 2021.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: White House via Wikimedia / Public Domain)