25 May 2017

Contempt of Court

Today is the sixth day the Trump administration has refused to turn over a document to a federal court that it was ordered to produce by last Friday. The document in question is the so-called "Giuliani travel ban memo," which contemplated how the government could ban Muslims from entering the United States without actually calling it a Muslim ban.

Rather than submit the document as ordered, the Trump administration is claiming a federal court cannot require the President to release documents. This, of course, is pure, unadulterated bullshit. On July 24, 1974, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a President cannot ignore a court order to produce documents or other evidence.

This current matter is both important and troubling because it shows the willingness of Donald Trump and his administration to ignore lawful court orders. Such a strategy could ignite a constitutional crisis.

If the Trump administration continues its refusal to comply with the court order, the judge could find it in contempt. If that happens, the judge has two remedies: jailing the refusing party until the evidence is produced or fining the refusing party in order to compel production.

It's not likely a sitting federal judge would order Donald Trump or members of his administration jailed. But the judge could levy fines on both the President and key members of his staff. Federal courts have shown in the past that they will impose stiff fines for recalcitrant litigants, sometimes even tens of thousands of dollars a day.

This is an pending crisis. How and when it is resolved will be telling for whether Trump and his people plan to ignore more court orders in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous06:41

    Ninguna sorpresa.Amigo venezolano,Cucuta


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