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Federal appeals court blocks release of Trump tax returns
Federal appeals court blocks release of Trump tax returns

A federal judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has stayed a district court order to subpoena President Trump’s tax returns. The stay, issued Tuesday, will prevent the district court from accessing Trump’s tax returns until the Second Circuit makes its decision in the case.

In his motion to stay, the President claimed that the subpoena would irreparably harm him by denying him his case in the appellate court:

The Supreme Court remanded this case so that the President can make further arguments challenging the subpoena as overbroad and issued in bad faith. In so doing, the Court also contemplated “appellate review” and reiterated that it “should be particularly meticulous.” Absent a stay pending appeal, however, the President will be deprived of any appellate review of his claims. “Courts routinely issue injunctions to stay the status quo when” events might “moot the losing party’s right to appeal.” As the Supreme Court put it, “compliance by the third person could frustrate any judicial inquiry” into the subpoena’s legality. [citations omitted].

This stay order is one among many judicial orders concerning President Trump’s tax returns. This case began in 2019, when the Southern District of New York ruled that Trump must release his tax returns per a grand jury subpoena in a criminal investigation. The president appealed the order, and the Second Circuit upheld the Southern District’s order. Upon appeal, the Supreme Court held that Trump must comply with the subpoena but could raise additional arguments to challenge the subpoena at the district court. Despite these arguments, the district court ordered the tax return release. Trump appealed to the Second Circuit on these new arguments and motioned to stay the district court’s decision, resulting in the Second Circuit’s Tuesday order.

As in this subpoena case, other courts have ruled on issues regarding the president’s tax returns. In November 2019, the California Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a California law that required presidential candidates to release tax returns.  Additionally, the US Supreme Court stayed a court order for Trump to release his tax returns to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in November 2019.

This case over the subpoena will continue at the Second Circuit. Oral arguments for the appeal in the criminal investigation will be held on September 25.