“Two Obama appointees just greenlit two of the most invasive Congressional subpoenas for private financial information in American history. Their orders eviscerate and endanger privacy for all Americans.”
Two Obama appointees just greenlit two of the most invasive Congressional subpoenas for private financial information in American history.
The two subpoenas from the House often came without House approval, but instead with written memorandums by self-serving chairmen. They compelled invasive disclosure of intimate information from accountants and banks concerning the private records of private people from a time period Trump was neither a candidate nor the President. Their orders eviscerate and endanger privacy for all Americans.
Constitutional constrictions impose structural limitations on Congress’ subpoena power to protect individuals from rogue politicians. This includes jurisdictional challenges, pertinence challenges, procedural challenges, and Constitutional challenges. Congress can only seek information specifically relevant to an authorized area of inquiry that is likely to produce facts essential and necessary for legislation in order to secure and safeguard the free speech; free association; and privacy of ordinary Americans under the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution.
…Congress only has the power to issue a subpoena when three conditions are first met: “Congress has the power to investigate; the committee has a proper grant of authority to conduct the investigation; and the materials sought are pertinent to the investigation and within the scope of the grant of authority.” Bergman v. Senate Special Committee on Aging, 389 F.Supp. 1127, 1130 (S.D.N.Y. 1975). This means there must be an “unambiguous resolution from the Senate authorizing it” and the investigation must be concerning “a subject on which legislation could be had.” Eastland v. U.S. Servicemens Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 508 (1975). A subpoena activity that is “not essential to legislating” is not within the subpoena power. Eastland v. U.S. Servicemens Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 508 (1975).
“There is no general authority to expose the private affairs of individuals without justification in terms of the functions of the Congress…Nor is the Congress a law enforcement or trial agency. Those are functions of the executive and judicial departments of government. No inquiry is an end in itself; it must be related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of the Congress. Investigations conducted solely for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to punish those investigated are indefensible.” Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 186 (1957).
This judgment presents a risk far beyond the politics and personality of Trump, though it is the premise for the courts’ conduct; these court orders open Pandora’s box for any snooping, stalking, surveilling politician to pry open the most intimate private aspects of any person’s life at any time for any reason as they long as they write a memo to themselves that says: we need this for legislation someday, maybe, kinda.
Does anyone think these peeping Tom politicians will limit their window shopping to Trump Tower?
The legal and political left continues to attack the first freedoms of the Constitutional republic in ways even Orwell thought too implausible to foresee. The failure to protect privacy for those related to Trump is the failure to protect privacy for everyone. Let us hope SCOTUS steps in before 2024 becomes Orwell’s 1984.
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