House committee files civil suit against Miers, Bolten

A look at the reasons for and potential implications of the House Judiciary Committee's contempt lawsuit.

By Alex Koppelman
March 12, 2008 9:06PM (UTC)
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Here's the video I filmed this week for our partners at Current. In it, I discuss the recent civil suit filed on behalf of the House Judiciary Committee, which asks a judge to force Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, and Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, to comply with congressional subpoenas regarding the U.S. attorneys firing scandal because of a declaration of executive privilege by President Bush.

As I say in the video, a cost-benefit analysis of the civil suit doesn't look good for the Democrats. The suit most likely won't have a conclusion until after the Bush administration is out of office -- and it's possible that the conclusion could go against Congress and thus reduce its power to investigate the executive branch. This is why both Congress and the executive have historically been reluctant to take executive privilege fights to the courts; there are few definitive rulings out there, and neither side has wanted to risk a major loss that would serve as precedent against them. For a more in-depth discussion of the legal issues in play, you can read my article on the topic from last summer here.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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