On November 1, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (he/him) temporarily blocked the House Ways and Means Committee from getting years of income tax documents from former President Donald Trump (he/him) and his related business entities. On October 27, a ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals had the IRS poised to hand over Trump’s tax returns to the committee within the week. According to CNBC, Robert’s order came a day after Trump’s legal team filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court insisting on the delay.
According to The Guardian, the delay imposed by the judge marks the third order in recent weeks issued by justices in cases related to Trump. The other cases concern Trump’s alleged interference in the 2020 election and the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Roberts’ handled the case because the chief justice is responsible for reviewing emergency applications.
Trump asked the Court to hold his tax returns from 2015 through 2020 until he can appeal the lower court ruling that cleared the path for the records to be turned over. The Ways and Means Committee has explained that it wants the returns as part of an investigation of how the IRS reviews presidential taxes. Trump argues that the committee is trying to humiliate him and that he plans to make his returns public in the future. According to financial and investment media website Investopedia, Trump was the first president in four decades that refused to release his tax returns, a tradition that began with President Richard Nixon in 1972.
It is unknown if Trump will convince any of the justices to accept his application. CNBC explains that the Supreme Court does not automatically admit appeals. But if the Court agrees to hear it, it could prevent the committee from continuing their investigation for months. Bloomberg reports that the timing is critical; if Republicans gain control of the House after midterms, the investigation could be disbanded when the new term begins in January.
On November 10, the Justice Department filed a brief on behalf of the IRS and the Treasury Department asking the Supreme Court not to block the lower court ruling that would require them to release the returns. The House Ways and Means Committee filed its own brief asking the same.