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Old 05-11-2020, 05:09 PM
Bijou Drains is offline
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Trump tax return cases will be argued this week at Supreme Court


Decision should come by end of June. Possible the SC will punt and say they cannot decide the cases.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features...o-be-released/
  #2  
Old 05-12-2020, 12:46 AM
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The case is a compendium of several separate cases that have percolated up through various lower courts, all of which have ruled against Trump. So if the Supreme Court rules that it can't rule, does that mean the lower court rulings stand?

Or, if SCOTUS rules that the case(s) are political and outside the purview of the courts, does that mean they are saying those lower courts also can't rule, and their opinions are therefore annulled? If so, then what?
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Old 05-12-2020, 05:49 AM
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If SCOTUS rules that this is a political question it would likely overturn the lower courts' decisions. They would likely then remand the matter to the lower courts for further proceedings consistent with their decision.

For the present moment such a decision would quash the subpoena presumably only for the duration of Trump's presidency. That would leave prosecutors able to reissue a subpoena when Trump leaves office. Until then the prosecutor would be out of luck with no alternative but to wait.

A related case is whether the subpoenas issued by a House subcommittee is a political question that the courts cannot rule on. If SCOTUS decides that is the case then the House would be left with the option of attempting to impeach him if he does not voluntarily comply. They could reissue such subpoenas after Trump leaves office.

The unanswered question is whether prosecutors and/or the House would bother to reissue such subpoenas after Trump leaves office.

Last edited by Iggy; 05-12-2020 at 05:50 AM.
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Old 05-12-2020, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Iggy View Post
For the present moment such a decision would quash the subpoena presumably only for the duration of Trump's presidency. That would leave prosecutors able to reissue a subpoena when Trump leaves office. Until then the prosecutor would be out of luck with no alternative but to wait.
Isn't it the other way around in the case that involves a prosecutor? Trump is asking the federal courts to stop that subpoena from being enforced on a third party, so if it's a political question, the federal courts have no grounds to grant his request.

A blanket ruling that the whole thing is a political question would be in Trump's favor in the congressional subpoena cases, but against him in the Mazars case AFAIK.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 05-12-2020 at 06:33 AM.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:34 AM
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Supreme court ruled 9-0 Clinton could not avoid the Paul Jones lawsuit since it had nothing to do with his duties as president. Some law experts says this should be 9-0 as well in favor of Congress.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:40 AM
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Of course it should be. But "should" and "will" are two different things. Expect Kavanaugh, at least, to rule in Trump's favor (remember, this is a guy who thinks it should be illegal to investigate the President).
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Old 05-12-2020, 11:21 AM
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I listened to a bit of the case today. From what I heard this could go either way. It will not be unanimous.
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Old 05-12-2020, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Lord Feldon View Post
Isn't it the other way around in the case that involves a prosecutor? Trump is asking the federal courts to stop that subpoena from being enforced on a third party, so if it's a political question, the federal courts have no grounds to grant his request.

A blanket ruling that the whole thing is a political question would be in Trump's favor in the congressional subpoena cases, but against him in the Mazars case AFAIK.
I was responding to the hypothetical of Senegoid that the court rules the case(s) are a political matter beyond judicial review.

It is MUCH more likely that the case about the House subpoenas (Trump v Mazars) would be ruled as a political matter than the NY state DA's subpoenas (Trump v Vance) case.

But the justices did not seem to focus on the political question doctrine during oral arguments in Mazars. As I write this the justices have not explored the political question doctrine in Vance so far. So, IMHO, it is unlikely they will rule that way in either case.

But, if the court were to rule in Vance that courts do not have the authority to rule on the validity of a state prosecutor's subpoena in this case then SCOTUS would vacate the lower court's ruling affirming the subpoena. It would not be a ruling that SCOTUS has no power to vacate. It would effectively be a ruling that the courts have no authority to enforce a subpoena. This effectively would quash the subpoena for now. Presumably such a ruling would be limited to Trumps term in office.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:19 PM
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Why not just pass a law?


If everyone thinks a Presidential candidate should release their tax records then why not just pass a law making it a requirement? Better you, why not add an Amendment to the Constitution? Why spend all this time arguing over it "this time" instead of solving it for ALL TIME?

Sideline question: How are you going to feel about it if your employer all of a sudden decides that they have the right to see YOUR tax records and you know that of course they will then go public? I don't think I'd like that. I think that if that a requirement that goes with the job it should be IN THE RULES from the very beginning. Making up new rules aimed at people you don't like isn't the right way to handle things.

I'm pretty sure I'd think the same thing regardless of who was in the White House.
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Old 05-12-2020, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Iggy View Post
But, if the court were to rule in Vance that courts do not have the authority to rule on the validity of a state prosecutor's subpoena in this case then SCOTUS would vacate the lower court's ruling affirming the subpoena. It would not be a ruling that SCOTUS has no power to vacate. It would effectively be a ruling that the courts have no authority to enforce a subpoena. This effectively would quash the subpoena for now. Presumably such a ruling would be limited to Trumps term in office.
It would be a ruling that the federal courts have no authority to enforce a subpoena. But the Vance case is about a state subpoena. The state courts have had (AFAIK) no problem with enforcing the subpoena.

Ruling that the state courts cannot enforce the subpoena is, AFAIK, mutually incompatible with a finding that it's not justiciable as a federal matter.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 05-12-2020 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 05-13-2020, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Sdowiat View Post
If everyone thinks a Presidential candidate should release their tax records then why not just pass a law making it a requirement? Better you, why not add an Amendment to the Constitution? Why spend all this time arguing over it "this time" instead of solving it for ALL TIME?

Sideline question: How are you going to feel about it if your employer all of a sudden decides that they have the right to see YOUR tax records and you know that of course they will then go public? I don't think I'd like that. I think that if that a requirement that goes with the job it should be IN THE RULES from the very beginning. Making up new rules aimed at people you don't like isn't the right way to handle things.

I'm pretty sure I'd think the same thing regardless of who was in the White House.
As I understand it, Congress can see anyone's tax records- including the President's. Trump is arguing that, as President, he is immune to that.

Trump is the one changing the law, not his enemies.
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Old 05-13-2020, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sdowiat View Post
Sideline question: How are you going to feel about it if your employer all of a sudden decides that they have the right to see YOUR tax records and you know that of course they will then go public? I don't think I'd like that.
My employer DOES have the right to do that. They can demand my returns for review at any time. And I'm under no illusions that once they have them they can stay secure. It's all part and parcel of the job.
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Old 05-13-2020, 09:23 AM
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As I understand it, Congress can see anyone's tax records- including the President's. Trump is arguing that, as President, he is immune to that.

Trump is the one changing the law, not his enemies.
Relevant law quoted below. Notice no exceptions for serving officials. Also notice that the information would be released in closed session of the committee. (Of course recently we have seen how much respect there is for the "closed sessions".)

One of the president's lawyers' arguments seems to be that this only applies if there is a directly legislation-related purpose that is not targeted at the person -- but the law does not say that. More worrying is that the sum total of their arguments on the multiple cases would suggest their ideal outcome would be that a sitting President (and by extension any Executive Branch official) is shielded from having to deliver information in any investigation or legal action, be it in state or federal court or Congress, about the President's past or present dealings.

Now, the bit about "all Presidential candidates should as a matter of course disclose their tax returns to the public", THAT is not a law. That was a political practice out into place after Watergate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 26 USC 2103
(...)
(f) Disclosure to Committees of Congress
(1) Committee on Ways and Means, Committee on Finance, and Joint Committee on Taxation.

Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.

(2) Chief of Staff of Joint Committee on Taxation
Upon written request by the Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish him with any return or return information specified in such request. Such Chief of Staff may submit such return or return information to any committee described in paragraph (1), except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.

(3) Other committees
Pursuant to an action by, and upon written request by the chairman of, a committee of the Senate or the House of Representatives (other than a committee specified in paragraph (1)) specially authorized to inspect any return or return information by a resolution of the Senate or the House of Representatives or, in the case of a joint committee (other than the joint committee specified in paragraph (1)) by concurrent resolution, the Secretary shall furnish such committee, or a duly authorized and designated subcommittee thereof, sitting in closed executive session, with any return or return information which such resolution authorizes the committee or subcommittee to inspect. Any resolution described in this paragraph shall specify the purpose for which the return or return information is to be furnished and that such information cannot reasonably be obtained from any other source.

(4) Agents of committees and submission of information to Senate or House of Representatives
(A) Committees described in paragraph (1)

Any committee described in paragraph (1) or the Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation shall have the authority, acting directly, or by or through such examiners or agents as the chairman of such committee or such chief of staff may designate or appoint, to inspect returns and return information at such time and in such manner as may be determined by such chairman or chief of staff. Any return or return information obtained by or on behalf of such committee pursuant to the provisions of this subsection may be submitted by the committee to the Senate or the House of Representatives, or to both. The Joint Committee on Taxation may also submit such return or return information to any other committee described in paragraph (1), except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.

(B) Other committees

Any committee or subcommittee described in paragraph (3) shall have the right, acting directly, or by or through no more than four examiners or agents, designated or appointed in writing in equal numbers by the chairman and ranking minority member of such committee or subcommittee, to inspect returns and return information at such time and in such manner as may be determined by such chairman and ranking minority member. Any return or return information obtained by or on behalf of such committee or subcommittee pursuant to the provisions of this subsection may be submitted by the committee to the Senate or the House of Representatives, or to both, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer, shall be furnished to the Senate or the House of Representatives only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.
(5) Disclosure by whistleblower

Any person who otherwise has or had access to any return or return information under this section may disclose such return or return information to a committee referred to in paragraph (1) or any individual authorized to receive or inspect information under paragraph (4)(A) if such person believes such return or return information may relate to possible misconduct, maladministration, or taxpayer abuse.
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Old 05-13-2020, 10:05 AM
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Has the House lawyer actually brought up this law in the Supreme Court yet? If the Court wants a limiting principle, then specific statutory authority would be a good one. Either a President must sign a law or it must be approved by 2/3 of the House and Senate; more than would be needed to remove a President through impeachment.
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Old 05-13-2020, 10:32 AM
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From what I read in the 2nd case the lawyer for NY state did a much better job than the house lawyer in the first case
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Old 05-13-2020, 10:53 AM
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Is there any way that the courts will decide against Trump, but phrase it in such a way that it allows him to run out the clock on actually complying with it before the election?
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Old 05-13-2020, 11:00 AM
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As I understand it the House case was for Trump financial records and NOT the subpoena for his tax records from the IRS.
The NY state case is for his tax records.
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Old 05-14-2020, 04:30 PM
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Is there any way that the courts will decide against Trump, but phrase it in such a way that it allows him to run out the clock on actually complying with it before the election?
I don't think this has anything to do with what Trump does. It's a question of whether the IRS will furnish the returns to Congress as required by the law.
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Old 05-14-2020, 07:01 PM
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Has the House lawyer actually brought up this law in the Supreme Court yet? If the Court wants a limiting principle, then specific statutory authority would be a good one.
The law alone is not the limiting principle. Trump's lawyers are saying, yes this is the law, but (oversimplifying bigly here) the limiting principles are "except the President" and/or "only if directly relevant to an actual piece of legislation". Apparently the problem here is the House's lawyer, even when given paths there by the Justices' questioning, did a terrible job of giving a satisfying answer as to what would the opposite limiting principle (granting that it cannot be "just because Rep. Neal wants to see anyone's tax return") actually look like.

Last edited by JRDelirious; 05-14-2020 at 07:03 PM.
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