Trump Judge Sh*tcans RNC Suit Against January 6 Committee
Last night, US District Judge Timothy Kelly unceremoniously curb stomped the Republican Nation Committee's lawsuit against the House January 6 Select Committee. In a meticulously detailed ruling, the Trump appointee laid waste to the legal theories advanced by everyone from the RNC to Mark Meadows to John "Coups 4 Dummies" Eastman, and even by Trump himself in an attempt to fight off subpoenas about the Capitol Riot.
In brief, the committee subpoenaed the RNC and its vendor Salesforce, which handled its email and marketing campaigns, for information on how they used lies about the election to raise money, and potentially to promote violence by Trump supporters. In March, the RNC sued the committee and its members to block the subpoena, and then added Salesforce as a defendant to prevent it complying with it. In the two months since the complaint was filed, the committee agreed to narrow its request significantly so that all personally identifying information about donors would be excluded.
The dozens of lawsuits against the committee bear striking similarities to each other — indeed some appear to be simply copy-pasted to save on drafting particularized grievances. Generally speaking, they all allege that the committee lacks a legitimate legislative purpose; that it is engaged in unconstitutional law enforcement activity; that the subpoenas are overbroad and violate the First and Fourth Amendments; that the committee is illegally constituted because Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger weren't appointed by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy; and that the committee lacks subpoena power because it has no "ranking member." John Eastman and Alex Jones even went so far as to argue that Liz Cheney doesn't count because she isn't a "real" Republican. Well ... they would.
The DC Circuit already dealt with some of these issues when Trump sued to prevent the National Archives from disclosing his presidential communications, but that case was mainly about executive privilege and whether some asshole on a golf cart in Florida can assert it over the wishes of the guy in the Oval Office. This decision is perhaps more important because it's the first federal court in DC to squarely address the patently gobbledygook claims by half of MAGAland, and because it's by a Trump appointee. Judge David Carter also dropkicked this nonsense in John Eastman's case, but he's a godless heathen from California.
Article I of the Constitution, AKA the Speech or Debate Clause, provides that members of Congress shall be "privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place." In plain English, you can't prosecute or sue Congress for conducting its official duties.
"[T]he Court has little trouble concluding that the Speech or Debate Clause immunizes House Defendants from this suit and that they must be dismissed for that reason," Judge Timothy Kelly wrote, quickly disposing of the RNC's claim with logic that will be fatal to the case of every other Trump minion trying to block subpoenas if his judicial colleagues adopt it. Similarly, the court refused to entertain challenges to the House's administration of its own rules because the “wisdom of congressional approach or methodology is not open to judicial veto.” (Citation.)
As for the idiotic claim that Kevin McCarthy could effectively torpedo the investigation by withdrawing his members, the court was especially scathing:
To “consult” with Minority Leader McCarthy, all Speaker Pelosi had to do was ask for his “advice or opinion.” See Consultation, Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019). There is no dispute that she did. That she did not accept all his recommendations, and that Minority Leader McCarthy then withdrew all his recommendations, does not mean that Speaker Pelosi failed to consult with him. And again, the House’s implicit determination that the Select Committee is duly authorized without the Republican members Minority Leader McCarthy recommended all but precludes the Court from holding otherwise.
"Like the RNC’s prior argument, this has intuitive appeal, but again, precedent forecloses it," Judge Kelly wrote. And as someone who reads performative Trump LOLsuits for a living, may I just add my own personal "A-freaking-men to that."
Citing the DC Circuit's Archives opinion, the court rejected the allegation that the committee lacks a legitimate legislative purpose and is playing prosecutor, writing that "it is 'hardly disputable' that the Select Committee may investigate the causes of the January 6 attack, and its 'broad knowledge of the causes' of that day will make it 'better able to fulfill its responsibility' to make well-informed recommendations to the House."
And while the court agreed that the RNC does have a First Amendment claim to protect its internal communications, that claim is overridden by the committee's need for the information. Particularly since the vendor was well aware that it ran the risk of fomenting violence by flogging Trump's lies about the election, and had told the RNC to tone that shit down.
Salesforce itself acknowledged that, because “there remain[ed] a risk of politically incited violence across the country,” it had taken “action to prevent [the RNC’s] use of our services in any way that could lead to violence.”
"The RNC's First Amendment interest is cognizable, but is overcome," Judge Kelly writes, dismissing its suit against Salesforce along with the case against the congressional defendants.
This is all very bad news for Mark Meadows, et al., who have made these exact same arguments in the same courthouse. The only silver lining is that Our Ronna will probably be able to put off complying a little longer since Judge Kelly stayed his order to give the RNC time to appeal. And depending on the three-judge panel they pull at the Circuit, they might be able to postpone this long enough for Kevin McCarthy to take back the Speaker's gavel and shitcan the whole thing. Or, heck, maybe Justice Roberts and the rest of the goon squad will decide that the Supreme Court's credibility is already shredded after they blew up Roe v. Wade, so they might as well go for broke and wreck Congress, too.
RNC v. Pelosi [Docket via Court Listener]
Follow Liz Dye on Twitter!
Click the widget to keep your Wonkette ad-free and feisty. And if you're ordering from Amazon, use this link, because reasons.
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.