Retired SCOTUS Justice Stevens: Trump ‘has to comply’ with congressional subpoenas

May 12, 2019 by Ben Marquis

As purportedly impartial arbiters of truth and justice, those who sit on the Supreme Court tend to remain above the fray when it comes to political fighting and partisanship as part of a longstanding, if unwritten rule of decorum.

But in an age when political norms and traditions are increasingly tossed to the side for political expediency, one retired justice has decided to wade in and join the fight against President Donald Trump.

Stevens: Trump has exceeded his executive powers

The Daily Caller reported that 99-year-old retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal that President Trump has exceeded his executive authority and, presumably, ought to be held in check by the courts.

Stevens was first nominated and confirmed to the high court in 1975 by former President Gerald Ford. Though nominally a moderate Republican, Stevens nevertheless ended up siding with the liberal justices on the court for much of his tenure on the bench.

At issue for Stevens these days is the recent announcement by the president that his administration would not be cooperating with the Democrat-controlled House in regard to the slew of politically-motivated subpoenas issued to him, his family, his associates, and members of his staff.

“He has to comply with subpoenas”

“The president is exercising powers that do not really belong to him,” Stevens said. “I mean, he has to comply with subpoenas and things like that.”

Stevens was asked how he thought the Supreme Court might rule if forced to decide on the disputed subpoenas, but the elderly jurist declined to speak on behalf of anyone on the court… though he made his own opinion on the matter quite obvious.

“I wouldn’t want to predict that anybody’s going to take the incorrect view,” Stevens said of a potential court ruling. “But certainly, the correct view is pretty clear.”

Subpoenas as partisan fishing expeditions

But is the “correct view” really all that obvious? The Democrat-controlled House committees have issued dozens of wide-ranging subpoenas for President Trump, very few of which hold merit or serve any legitimate legislative purpose, which is a fundamental requirement for any exercise of the congressional subpoena power.

President Trump has made it clear he intends to fight the many subpoenas, as he recognizes them for exactly what they are — partisan efforts to smear and undermine his administration and dredge up information that can be twisted and used as political weapons against him by Democrats and their media allies.

In reality, the bulk of the subpoenas are less about proper congressional oversight or legislative affairs, and more of a fishing expedition for any dirt that can be used by the Democratic Party and media to remove Trump from office, whether via the 2020 election, through a formal impeachment process, or by forcing him to resign.

It is a pretty big deal when a retired Supreme Court justice decides to buck tradition and weigh in on the partisan issues of the day, and the fact that Stevens felt compelled to do so only goes to show just how sharply divided this country is right now.