Chief Justice John Roberts on Friday granted a request from a New York district attorney to accelerate the date on which the Supreme Court’s ruling on access to the president’s financial records will officially go into effect. The court did not act on similar requests from the House of Representatives. The ruling does not mean that the Manhattan grand jury – on whose behalf the district attorney served a subpoena seeking the documents – will automatically receive the documents, but it allows a federal trial court in New York to move ahead to try to resolve any remaining disputes over the documents.
On July 9, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Trump v. Vance. By a vote of 7-2, the justices rejected the president’s claim that he is always immune from state grand jury proceedings while he is in office. But the court sent the case back to a federal district court, noting that the president can still raise other challenges to the subpoena – for example, by arguing that the subpoena is too broad or seeks information that isn’t relevant to the grand jury’s investigation.
Under the Supreme Court’s rules, the rulings would normally go into effect on August 3, 25 days after the court’s opinion was released. But Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, on Wednesday asked the justices to put their ruling into effect immediately. Proceedings in the district court are already underway, Vance noted; any disputes about the subpoenas should be resolved quickly “to prevent frustration of the grand jury’s ongoing investigation.” “And, critically,” Vance added, “given the age of many of the transactions at issue in the grand jury’s investigation, issues could arise in the near future concerning the applicable statutes of limitations.” “Each day that compliance with the” subpoena “is delayed,” Vance warned, “increases the likelihood that the grand jury will not receive the documents it sought ten months ago in a timely fashion,” which could effectively give Trump “the absolute temporary immunity” that the Supreme Court rejected.
Although he believed that the lower courts have acted properly in initiating proceedings in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on July 9, Vance suggested, it would still be appropriate for the justices to issue their ruling immediately (presumably, although he did not say so expressly, to remove any doubt) – particularly because Trump has consented to the request. Roberts on Friday afternoon granted Vance’s request in a brief order that specifically noted – perhaps to draw a contrast with the requests by the congressional committees, which Trump opposed – that Trump had consented to “the relief sought.”
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.