The US Supreme Court Tuesday denied former President Donald Trump’s request to block the US House Ways and Means Committee from obtaining his tax records. Chief Justice John Roberts previously stayed a lower court order granting the committee access on November 1. Tuesday’s order ends a legal battle between the committee and Trump which started over three years ago.
In a brief order the court stated, “The order heretofore entered by the Chief Justice is vacated.” The court’s order effectively guarantees the US House Ways and Means Committee access to Trump’s tax records.
In a press release following the court’s order Chair of the Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal (D-MA) said, “We knew the strength of our case, we stayed the course, followed the advice of counsel, and finally, our case has been affirmed by the highest court in the land. Since the Magna Carta, the principle of oversight has been upheld, and today is no different.”
In 2019 the committee requested the tax returns of then-President Trump from the Department of the Treasury. The Department of the Treasury, then headed by Trump appointee Steve Mnuchin, responded that it did not intend to comply with the request because it was “not supported by a legitimate legislative purpose.”
The committee sued the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seeking the disclosure of Trump’s tax returns. While the case was pending in a federal district court, President Joe Biden was inaugurated and leadership at the Department of Treasury changed hands. The committee again requested Trump’s tax returns in 2021. The Department of the Treasury, now headed by Biden appointee Janet Yellen, informed the committee that it intended to comply with the request for Trump’s tax returns.
The committee then voluntary dismissed their suit against the Department of the Treasury. Trump then filed a crossclaim against the Department of the Treasury and Yellen, the IRS and its commissioner, as well as the committee. Trump claimed that the 2019 and 2021 requests were unlawful.
The committee sought to dismiss, stating that Trump had failed to state a claim. The federal district court agreed. Trump’s appealed the decision. However, the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit also dismissed Trump’s claim and ordered the delivery of Trump’s tax returns to the committee.
Trump then requested the US Supreme Court block the committee from acquiring the tax records. Roberts, as Circuit Justice for the DC Circuit, stayed the order from the Court of Appeals “pending further review.” Tuesday’s decision, however, removes that stay and clears the way for the committee to obtain Trump’s tax records.