The House Committee on the Judiciary on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to remove its dispute with the Department of Justice over secret materials from the Mueller investigation from the court’s December argument calendar. The committee told the justices that once a new Congress and President-elect Joe Biden take office in January, it “will have to determine whether it wishes to continue” its efforts to gain access to the materials at the center of the case now before the court, Department of Justice v. House Committee on the Judiciary.
The dispute arose last year, after Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his report on possible Russian interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General William Barr. Barr released a redacted version of the report in April 2019, but a few months later the committee went to court in Washington, D.C., where it asked a federal judge for an order that would require the Department of Justice to disclose the redacted portions of the Mueller report, along with secret grand jury transcripts and materials, for use in the committee’s impeachment investigation.
The district court granted the committee’s request, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld that decision. The Department of Justice then went to the Supreme Court, which in May of this year agreed to block the disclosure of the materials; six weeks later, the justices announced that they would take up the case, which was later scheduled for Dec. 2.
In a short filing on Tuesday morning, the committee asked the justices to take the case off the December argument calendar. The committee stressed that its “investigations into misconduct by President Trump, oversight of agency activities during the Trump Administration, and consideration of related legislative reforms have remained ongoing.” But, it suggested, once the new Congress and Biden are sworn in, its plans regarding the application to obtain grand jury materials may change. As a result, the committee concluded, “postponing oral argument would be in the interest of the parties and the Court and may conserve judicial resources.” The committee did not indicate whether or when a new date for argument should be set.
The Department of Justice, the committee told the court, plans to file a response to the committee’s request.
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.