SCOTUS Floats 'Political Question' in Trump Tax Return Case

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Posted: Apr 27, 2020 10:30 AM
SCOTUS Floats 'Political Question' in Trump Tax Return Case

Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The Supreme Court moved the goal posts in the legal battle over the release of President Trump’s tax returns on Monday morning, while the court released a handful of opinions. After years of partisan fights over the president’s tax records, the high court is now questioning whether or not the “political question,” a staple in constitutional law, doctrine can be applied to this case. As the name indicates, the “political question” standard serves as a check on courts from intervening in political matters, and questions whether or not the issue at hand belongs in the courtroom. The “political question” doctrine is used in conjunction with “justiciability,” which concerns the limits of the court’s legal authority. 

In the case of President Trump’s financial history and tax records, the court now asks both parties to submit briefs indicating the court’s duty in this battle, and whether or not the case belongs in front of the Supreme Court. 

“The parties and the Solicitor General are directed to file supplemental letter briefs addressing whether the political question doctrine or related justiciability principles bear on the Court’s adjudication of these cases,” the Justices wrote.

House Democrats began the legal fight to demand that President Trump’s tax returns be public just over a year ago, after Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) requested the president’s records and the administration refused; Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin affirmed that Rep. Neal’s request had no “legitimate legislative purpose.” Democrats have taken aim at the president on this issue since the 2016 general election, and hoped to bring it to the center stage of the 2020 election.