Inherent Contempt Enforcement Rule

Good Government Now (GGN) is recommending that the U.S. House of Representatives address the crisis in the declining effectiveness of congressional oversight of the executive branch by adopting our proposed “Inherent Contempt Enforcement Rule” which would strengthen congressional subpoena and contempt enforcement by creating a process whereby the House would conduct trials of, convict, and directly sanction executive branch officials who obstruct the legislative information gathering process.

Rule on Civil Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas

Good Government Now is proposing an amendment to the rules of the U.S. House of Representatives to improve compliance with congressional information requests and enforcement of subpoenas of executive branch officials in oversight disputes appropriate for civil enforcement. The rule distinguishes cases involving claims of executive privilege from those that do not and channels only the latter, which are better suited for adjudication in favor of Congress, to civil enforcement in federal court.

Inherent Contempt Enforcement Rule Panel Discussion – Friday, 10/19/18

The executive branch has challenged congressional oversight, investigative, and subpoena enforcement authority ever more boldly over the past few decades. A distinguished panel of congressional oversight experts will consider whether an amendment to House rules establishing a revised inherent contempt enforcement procedure proposed by Good Government Now Senior Fellow Morton Rosenberg can reinvigorate congressional subpoena enforcement power in a luncheon panel discussion Friday, October 19, 2018 from 12-1:30pm in Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2226, 45 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20515.

Dr. Murphy in The Hill: Congress Should Invoke Revised Inherent Contempt Procedure in DOJ Subpoena Standoff

The Hill, September 5, 2018
The U.S. House should invoke a revised version of its historical inherent contempt enforcement power to address the refusal of Department of Justice (DOJ) officials to comply with congressional subpoenas seeking information such as occurred with the Clinton email and Russia investigations.  Inherent contempt refers to the centuries-old practice of the U.S. Congress and other parliamentary bodies of defending their institutional authority and punishing contempts by holding trials to convict and sanction individuals who obstruct the legislative process.

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