Four Supreme Court justices – Thomas, Roberts, Kavanaugh and Alito – addressed the President’s potential harassment with a wave of subpoenas.
“One might be manageable. But 100 might be impossible,” Judge Clarence Thomas told Douglas Letter, General Counsel for the House, describing how both chambers of Congress and grand juries can summon presidents’ documents at the same time.
Judge Samuel Alito also burned the letter with questions about whether the House Summons harassed Trump. Letter replied that the assignments had gone to private third parties, not to the President himself.
“The issue here is whether something should be done” to “prevent harassment of the president,” said Alito.
The exchanges were notable not only for the extent to which the judges appointed by the Republicans stressed the possible need to protect the president – but also because of their distance from what the court was questioning before today.
Before the arguments, the court had asked the parties to describe why the court should even be involved in such a political situation.
Raising the issue suggests that the court may have been looking for an exit.
But the Supreme Court now seems to be directly attacking how it regulates subpoena, or not.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh also mentioned the President’s potential harassment, noting the possibility that the court could use a test for congressional subpoenas, for example to ensure there was a critical need for the information.
Chief Justice Roberts also asked questions about congressional subpoenas which may appear to harass the President. “How do you measure harassment in a case like this? At one point, there is straw breaking the back of the camel,” said Thomas.