Chief Justice John Roberts has issued a stay to temporarily
delay the release of Donald Trump’s tax returns to the House Oversight Committee.
House Democrats said that they would not oppose the temporary delay, which
would give the Court time to consider arguments from both sides.
CNBC notes that the stay does not require a public vote or dissent. A stay generally
requires five justices, but, in some cases, one justice can issue the order
pending review by the full Court.
The case before the Court centers on a provision
of the IRS Code that stipulates that the agency “shall furnish such
committee with any return or return information” for which it submits a written
request. The law does not exempt the president’s tax information but does note that
tax information “shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in
closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing.”
While observers wait for the Supreme Court to decide whether
it is constitutional for the president to opt out of disclosing his tax information,
the president’s lawyers are urging the Court to hear a second case involving presidential
tax returns. The president is appealing a decision
by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals that requires Mr. Trump
to turn over his tax returns to the Manhattan district attorney. If the Supreme
Court refuses to take up the appeal. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, will
be required to submit the returns to the DA office.
As I predicted
back in May, the law seems to be on the side of the Democrats so the legal
battle may only have the effect of pushing the exposure of President Trump’s
tax information closer to the election. If the returns don’t contain
incriminating information, Mr. Trump would likely be better served to simply drop
the lawsuits and fulfill his promise of releasing his tax returns. Otherwise,
he may be hit with the leak of embarrassing tax information just when it will
hurt him most.