By Ralph Nader
By Ralph Nader and Bruce Fein
Last month, Congressman Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the Capitol, voiced doubts about the committee’s authority to enforce its subpoenas. He said: “If we subpoena them and they choose not to come, I’m not aware of a real vehicle that we can force compliance.”
The Chairman’s constitutional lack of knowledge threatens to impair the committee’s investigation and fact-finding. It has been clear for nearly a century since the United States Supreme Court decision in McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135 (1927) that the Constitution endows Congress with inherent contempt power to sanction non-compliance with its subpoenas without vetting by any court through fines or imprisonment until compliance is forthcoming. The committee is wrong to refrain from using its most effective tool to enforce subpoenas forthwith by needlessly traipsing off to lead-footed courts for judicial enforcement orders which plays into Trump’s delaying tactics.