The Problem: Congress has lost the authority to enforce subpoenas.
Inherent contempt enforcement has been the most effective of the three methods available to Congress for defending its institutional prerogatives against contumacious behavior and ensuring timely compliance with its information demands. Congress employed it highly successfully and almost exclusively until 1935, even after enactment of the criminal contempt statute in 1857.
Congress stopped employing inherent contempt after 1935 for three reasons: (a) the associated trials at the bar of either house consumed too much floor time, (b) the habeas corpus suits that invariably accompanied the arrests and detentions of alleged contemnors further delayed the process excessively, and (c) the arrest and incarceration of witnesses was perceived unseemly. Read more.
Good Government Now was founded to strengthen congressional subpoena enforcement to re-establish an appropriate constitutional balance between the legislative and executive branches.
Media Alert: Experts to Debate Inherent Contempt Enforcement Rule of House Subpoenas on Capitol Hill Friday