Abstract

Both the executive branch and Congress claim the final word in oversight disputes. Congress asserts its subpoenas are legal binding. The executive branch claims the final authority to assert executive privilege and, accordingly, to refuse to comply with a subpoena without consequence. These divergent views stem in large part from the relative absence of any judicial precedent, including not a single Supreme Court decision on the privilege in context of congressional oversight. In that vacuum - unconstrained by precedent - the executive branch has developed a comprehensive theory of executive privilege to support and implement prophylactic doctrines that render Congress largely powerless in oversight disputes.

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2020

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