This morning the Supreme Court issued orders from the justices’ private conference yesterday. The justices added another high-profile case to their docket for the fall, involving a dispute over efforts by members of Congress to obtain secret materials from the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller submitted a report last year to Attorney General William Barr on possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, and Barr released a redacted version of that report in April 2019. In July 2019, the House Judiciary Committee went to federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking an order that would require the disclosure of the redacted portions of the Mueller report, as well as grand jury transcripts and materials that had been kept secret, for use in its impeachment investigation. The committee relied on a provision in a federal rule of criminal procedure that allows a court to authorize the disclosure of grand jury materials that would otherwise be kept secret “in connection with a judicial proceeding.”
The district court granted the committee’s request to have access to the parts of the report redacted under grand jury secrecy rules, as well as the related grand jury materials, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld that order. The government went to the Supreme Court in May, asking the justices to block the release of the grand jury materials until it could file its petition for review of the D.C. Circuit’s decision; otherwise, the government contended, it would have to hand the materials over, lifting the veil of secrecy and potentially rendering any future proceedings in the dispute meaningless. On May 20, the justices put the disclosure of the materials on hold, and today they agreed to weigh in. But unless the justices fast-track the oral argument (and there was no indication today that they intend to do so), they are not likely to hear the case until December, after Election Day, with a ruling to follow sometime next year.
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.