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Media Alert: Experts to Debate Inherent Contempt Enforcement Rule of House Subpoenas on Capitol Hill Friday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 15th, 2018


Contact: Gabriella Hoffman,, 202-753-2626


Experts to Debate Proposed House Inherent Contempt Enforcement Procedure

in Panel Discussion on Capitol Hill


Washington, D.C. — Good Government Now is hosting a panel discussion titled “Can a Revised Inherent Contempt Procedure Strengthen Enforcement of House Subpoenas to the Executive Branch?” on Capitol Hill this Friday, October 19th, 2018, from 12-1:30pm in Rayburn Building, Room 2226. Members of the media and others interested in attending should RSVP here.  


A distinguished panel of congressional oversight experts will consider whether an amendment to the rules of the House establishing a revised inherent contempt enforcement procedure proposed by Good Government Now Senior Fellow Morton Rosenberg can reinvigorate Congressional subpoena enforcement.  


Featured panelists include Morton Rosenberg, Senior Fellow at Good Government Now and former Senior Specialist in American Public Law for 35 years at the Congressional Research Service; Stanley M. Brand, Senior Counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and former House General Counsel; and Elizabeth Hempowicz, Director of Public Policy, Project on Government Oversight.


Inherent contempt enforcement is the centuries-old practice of the U.S. Congress and other parliamentary bodies of defending their institutional authority by holding trials to convict and punish individuals who defy subpoenas or otherwise obstruct legislative inquiry. Rosenberg’s proposal would establish a process whereby the U.S. House could unilaterally conduct trials of, convict, and punish executive branch officials for contempt of Congress.


“Our proposal to reinvigorate congressional subpoena enforcement power with a revised version of the traditional inherent contempt procedure is urgently needed to reverse the crisis in declining congressional oversight effectiveness in recent decades,” explained Good Government Now President Bill Murphy.  “The executive branch has challenged congressional oversight, investigative, and subpoena enforcement authority ever more boldly during this period. The Department of Justice has pursued a deliberate strategy of preventing Congress from using its historically most effective inherent and criminal contempt enforcement procedures through litigation, internal legal opinions, and departmental policies. The House should act decisively to correct this unhealthy situation by amending its rules to establish a robust inherent contempt enforcement process for the next Congress.”




Good Government Now promotes strengthened congressional oversight, investigative, and legislative institutional capacities to re-establish an appropriate constitutional balance between the legislative and executive branches as well as accountability of the executive branch to Congress and the American people.

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