(LibertySociety.com) – On January 19, the United States Supreme Court approved the delivery of former President Donald Trump’s White House records to the January 6 committee for review.
For months, the previous US leader tried to shield the information under claims of executive privilege but failed in lower courts. As a result, he asked SCOTUS to weigh in on the decision to keep his presidential documents from the days leading up to and including January 6, 2021, private.
All but one Supreme Court justice agreed with the lower courts’ rulings, allowing the archives to release the documents.
#BREAKING: With only Justice Thomas publicly dissenting, #SCOTUS rules against former President Trump; refuses to stop National Archives from turning over four tranches of Trump presidential records to the January 6 Committee. pic.twitter.com/UugvbjQ0DG
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) January 19, 2022
Although the House committee wants the records to see if Trump played any role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack, the document release brings up the question of the future sanctity of executive privilege for presidents in and out of office.
Historically, the standard allows for free speech in the Oval Office about sensitive subjects and protects national security. However, since the Constitution doesn’t mention executive privilege, the ritual is merely a method of standard practice and previous court decisions.
In Trump’s case, the Supreme Court avoided answering whether a former president could claim the privilege. They said “Trump’s claims would have failed” whether he was in office or not, so they refused to overturn the previous ruling, leaving executive privilege claims subject to interpretation on a case-by-case basis.
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