ISSN 2330-717X

Ralph Nader And Bruce Fein Statement On January 6th Committee Enforcing Subpoenas


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.

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is a politician, activist and the author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, a novel. In his career as consumer advocate he founded many organizations including the Center for Study of Responsive Law, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), the Center for Auto Safety, Public Citizen, Clean Water Action Project, the Disability Rights Center, the Pension Rights Center, the Project for Corporate Responsibility and The Multinational Monitor (a monthly magazine).

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