Former President Trump’s bid to prevent the Congress from accessing tax returns has been rejected by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday paved the way for a congressional committee to receive Donald Trump’s tax returns, rejecting an appeal from the former president and capping a long-running legal battle over the carefully guarded papers.
In an unsigned two-sentence order, the court denied Trump’s request for a stay and lifted a pause that Chief Justice John Roberts had placed on the case three weeks ago.
The Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee has worked since 2019 to gain access to the documents, held by the Internal Revenue Service, but saw its efforts snarled in the court system.
“It has been 1,329 days since our committee sought Donald Trump’s tax returns — almost as long as the American Civil War,” Rep. Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat and a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.
“And for 1,329 days, our request made under law has been delayed, obfuscated, and blocked by Donald Trump and his adjutants in the government and the courts,” Pascrell added in the statement. “The Supreme Court is right to keep its nose out of this case.”
Trump appealed for a stay at the nation’s top court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found the House panel should receive the documents.
But the former president once again failed to persuade a conservative Supreme Court that includes three judges he nominated. The court has foiled several of his legal efforts, including his attempts to challenge the 2020 presidential election results.
“The application for stay of the mandate presented to The Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is denied,” the court said in its Tuesday order, which noted no dissents.
Noah Feldman, a constitutional law professor at Harvard, said the case was clearcut and that the Supreme Court’s decision came at the right time.
“There was just very little legal uncertainty around this,” Feldman said by phone. “This is the right legal decision.”
Federal law authorizes the Ways and Means Committee to demand that the IRS provide any taxpayer’s returns.
In its request to the nation’s top court, Trump’s legal team said the House panel asked the IRS for six years’ worth of tax returns in an effort to expose the documents to the public “for the sake of exposure.”
It was not immediately clear if the Supreme Court’s ruling would ultimately lead to public disclosure of the documents.
Trump broke with modern precedent by declining to release his tax returns during his presidency and as a candidate in 2016. He launched his latest run for the presidency last week.
Before the Tuesday ruling, the Ways and Means Committee appeared to be running out of time to obtain the tax documents.