Congressional Subpoena Power

Discussion in 'Law and Justice System' started by dilloduck, Apr 10, 2005.

  1. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    Where exactly do they derive it from and who is in charge of enforcing their subpoena? Are we looking at a gap that the constitution doesn't cover?
     
  2. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Series of court cases and reviews:

    http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/sine.htm

     
  3. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    Thanks--seems like basically the courts gave congress some power originally delegated to them by the constitution.
    Interesting--Is the Attorney General the enforcer of this subpoena or the congressional Sgt. at Arms maybe?
     
  4. William Joyce
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    William Joyce Chemotherapy for PC

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    Excellent question. The answer is that the Dept. of Justice -- i.e., the executive branch -- would enforce the subpoena. If a Congressional subpoena were ignored, Congress would sponsor a resolution or ad hoc piece of legislation empowering the DOJ or the U.S. Attorney to go get 'em. This information, I got by calling the House Government Reform Committee.

    But you're right --- subpoena power is generally a mix of judicial and executive power. The judge signs the subpoena, and if it's ignored, sends the sheriff to go drag you out of bed. Legislative bodies like Congress are mostly "dead" branches, i.e., they don't have guys with guns. They just have rule-making power. The founders liked the idea of separating these roles, and Congressional subpoenas do create Constitutional fuzzy areas.

    All of which is made even stupider when Congress subpoenas baseball players.
     
  5. USViking
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    USViking VIP Member

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    During the Senate Watergate hearings the White House said it might have presidential legal counsellor John Dean refuse to obey a Senate subpoena,
    and the chairman of the commitee said the Sergeant at Arms would in that case be sent to White House to arrest Mr. Dean.

    A serious constitutional crisis would have ensued. Fortunately the administration gave in, although Dean's testimony may not have been entirely forthcoming.
     
  6. Houston Allred
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    Houston Allred Rookie

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    William Joyce attempts to answer the question "Who acts for Congress when a Congressional subpoena is issued?" with "The answer is that the Dept. of Justice -- i.e., the executive branch -- would enforce the subpoena. If a Congressional subpoena were ignored, Congress would sponsor a resolution or ad hoc piece of legislation empowering the DOJ or the U.S. Attorney to go get 'em. This information, I got by calling the House Government Reform Committee." What about the U.S. House of Representatives Sergeant-at-arms? Who on the House Government Reform Committee gave Joyce that info?
     
  7. William Joyce
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    William Joyce Chemotherapy for PC

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    The dude who answered the phone.

    I also have an aged e-mail from my Con Law prof saying basically the same thing.

    I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have a client walk in and want to challenge a Congressional subpoena. I'd take that bee-hotch to the Supreme Court. But, I do insurance defense, so, fat chance!
     
  8. OohPooPahDoo
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    OohPooPahDoo Gold Member

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    What a current topic!
     
  9. LAfrique
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    LAfrique VIP Member

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    When it comes to those thugs in Washington DC, they will not hesitate to create some national military czar to execute whatever they assume needed in the name of homeland security.
     
  10. Sherry
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    Sherry You're not the boss of me Supporting Member

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    Hey, I miss dillo.
     

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