Congress’s Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure

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Note the recent date: May 12, 2017

Congress’s Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure” Todd Garvey Legislative Attorney, May 12, 2017
Congressional Research Service 7-5700 http://www.crs.gov RL34097

Summary

Congress’s contempt power is the means by which Congress responds to certain acts that in its view obstruct the legislative process. Contempt may be used either to coerce compliance, to punish the contemnor, and/or to remove the obstruction. Although arguably any action that directly obstructs the effort of Congress to exercise its constitutional powers may constitute a contempt, in recent times the contempt power has most often been employed in response to non-compliance with a duly issued congressional subpoena—whether in the form of a refusal to appear before a committee for purposes of providing testimony, or a refusal to produce requested documents.

Congress has three formal methods by which it can combat…

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