April 22, 2005

Just wanted to note that Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist have been subpoenaed by the Senate subcommittee on Indian affairs as part of its probe into the activities of DeLay associate Jack Abramoff. The Chron picks up the story today.

"As part of the committees oversight function, we are examining instances of potential defrauding of Indian tribes," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who chairs the committee.

Reed, who is running for lieutenant governor of Georgia, said through a spokeswoman that he would turn over all records to the committee.

Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform said it would not release all the documents requested by the Senate committee, including lists of donors.

"In the past, ATR's donors have been harassed and abused when their names have been made public, and the organization has no intention of allowing this to happen again," said spokesman Christopher Butler. A subpoena was issued for the records that ATR has refused to release, McCain said.

I'm just curious here. What if any enforcement mechanism does the subcommittee have to get Norquist to comply? If anyone who gets subpoenaed can simply say "bug off" and not suffer any consequences, why would anyone comply?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 22, 2005 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

I'm guessing that they can be held in Contempt of Congress, which is addressed in the link. Not that that will ever happen.

Posted by: Justin on April 22, 2005 3:33 PM

You can be held in contempt of Congress, just like contempt of court, for refusing to respond to a subpoena. Wikipedia has an entry:


Posted by: Kevin C on April 22, 2005 3:36 PM

Trouble with that is, I'm contemptuous of Congress all the time, and I'm still walkin' around.

Posted by: Linkmeister on April 22, 2005 9:41 PM

Contempt of Congress is the punishment for noncompliance. But you asked about enforcement which brings up an interesting question: How does the legislative branch or the Judicial enforce the law? I mean, the executive is the enforcement branch, but what happens if Congress needs to arrest someone for Contempt of Congress? Or if the SCOTUS says to integrate schools?

Short answer is nothing. Just ask the Cherokee. There is the very famous instance of Andrew Jackson marching the Cherokee from Georgia to Oklahoma even after the Court had ruled that half of Georgia belonged to them. Jackson famously replied "John Marshall has made his decision, now let us see him enforce it."

Long answer, Congress can call on any federal agency to serve its needs, such as getting the US Marshal Service to compel a witness to appear to give testimony, getting the FBI to investigate a matter or having the US District Attorneys Office to serve a subpoena. Also, the Capitol has its own police force.

Just thought I would broaden the discussion a little.

Posted by: Nate-N on April 22, 2005 9:47 PM

You can be held in contempt of Congress, just like contempt of court, for refusing to respond to a subpoena.

True, but get real: would a Republican-run Congress actually dare to cite Ralph Reed for contempt if he told the committee what to go do with itself?

Hell, Bush administration officials have flat-out refused to answer committee questions, and even lied to their questioners, without the slightest fear that this crowd will ever hold them accountable.

Nothing will happen to Reed or Norquist. They can do whatever the f**k they want.

Posted by: Mathwiz on April 26, 2005 5:22 PM