WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined a request from Donald Trump to block the release of his tax returns to a House committee seeking them, the latest legal setback the former president has endured from a court he helped to shape.
Trump asked the high court on Oct. 31 to intervene in his long-running legal battle with the House Ways and Means Committee over access to years of his tax returns. Since then, Trump has announced he will run for president again in 2024 and Republicans flipped enough seats to take control of the House of Representatives next year.
The court denied Trump’s request without comment, which is common on its emergency docket. There were no noted dissents.
The battle over Trump’s taxes dates back years: Democrats in 2019 sought copies of his returns from the Treasury Department after Trump flouted tradition by declining to release them as a candidate in 2016. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against Trump in late October, declining to reconsider an August ruling by a three-judge panel that unanimously sided with the House committee in the dispute.
The Supreme Court’s decision came after it ruled against Trump last month in another emergency case dealing with documents seized over the summer at his Mar-a-Lago club. In that case, the former president had asked the court to allow an independent arbiter, or special master, to review about 100 classified documents.
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Trump’s post-presidency record at the Supreme Court is not particularly good, even though he nominated three of the court’s current associate justices: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. In January, the Supreme Court refused to block the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack from getting Trump’s administration documents. In 2020, the court ruled that Trump could not keep his tax returns and financial records away from a New York City prosecutor who was pursuing possible hush-money payments during the 2016 White House race.
Trump’s lawyers had argued the latest case raised “important questions about the separation of powers that will affect every future president.”
Chief Justice John Roberts, who handles emergency appeals from the D.C. Circuit, temporarily delayed the case to give the parties a chance to submit written arguments.
Time is running short for Democratic efforts to obtain the records: When Republicans take control of the House early next year they are almost certain to drop the request. Three GOP candidates for the Ways and Means Committee chairmanship told CNBC earlier this month that they would not pursue the former president’s tax returns.