The US Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a case in which members of Congress are seeking the disclosure of information regarding a real estate contract entered into by one of former president Donald Trump’s companies.
The case, Carnahan v. Maloney, began after an investigation into a 2013 contract between General Services Administration (GSA) and one of Trump’s companies to lease and convert a building into a hotel. Amidst Trump’s run for president in 2016, members of Congress in the House Oversight Committee became interested in this agreement, expressing concern over possible conflicts of interest.
Members of the committee requested information from GSA regarding the lease agreement pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 2954, which the company rejected. This statute allows the House Oversight Committee (and the Senate’s equivalent) to request information from executive agencies so long as the committee has jurisdiction over the matter. After the refusal, the members sued GSA to turn over the information.
A lower court rejected the members’ argument, ruling that the lawmakers lacked Article III standing to sue because “[m]embers generally cannot claim harm suffered solely in their official capacities as legislators.” This ruling was then reversed by the US Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit which held the legislators did have Article III standing because denying them information they were legally entitled to constituted an injury.
Article III of the US Constitution allows parties to sue and have their case heard so long as they pass three hurdles. The party filing must show they have an interest in the outcome of the suit because they have or may suffer harm that is particular, can be traced back to the topic of the lawsuit, and that can be remedied by a court decision.
The Trump Organization, one of Trump’s companies, currently operates nine hotels across North America, Europe, and Asia. The court’s ruling comes a week after a federal jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing writer E. Jean Carroll, awarding her $5 million in damages.