WSJ logo
Forbes logo
Fox News logo
CNN logo
Bloomberg logo
Los Angeles Times logo
Washington Post logo
The Epoch Times logo
Telemundo logo
New York Times
NY Post logo
NBC logo
Daily Beast logo
USA Today logo
Miami Herald logo
CNBC logo
Dallas News logo

Are Congressional Subpoenas Enforceable?

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Attorney Nick Oberheiden
Congressional Subpoenas Team Leadenvelope iconContact Nick directly

What makes a congressional subpoena enforceable? An easier question is probably what makes it not enforceable. Congress’s power to issue subpoenas is extremely broad. It is very hard to make a successful argument that Congress overstepped its authority in issuing a subpoena. So, the subpoena you received is probably legitimate.

With your congressional subpoena, you may think you entered a whirlwind of craziness. But with a skilled defense team on your side, it’ll be smooth sailing. The attorneys at Oberheiden P.C. are leaders in congressional and governmental inquiries. We represent clients from various industries, including finance, securities, technology, and healthcare. We will work with you and for you.

You probably have many questions:

  • What is a congressional investigation?
  • Why did Congress issue a congressional subpoena to me?
  • Is the subpoena legitimate?
  • Can I fight it?

We have extensive resources to answer these questions and advise you of the next steps to take. Our attorneys and team of professionals will work meticulously with you to make sure we protect your rights, your business, and your reputation.

You don’t have to go into the lion’s den alone. Contact Oberheiden, P.C. today so a skillfully trained defense team can fight at your side!

Validity of Congressional Subpoenas

Congressional investigations are as old as the American Republic itself. Congressional subpoenas are issued during these investigations. They order the target of the investigation to turn over documents, answer questions, or appear before Congress to testify.

The congressional subpoena you received is most likely valid. Though such power is not listed in the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court has upheld the power. Article 1 of the Constitution states that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress” which has the authority “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper.” This text has been read to give support for congressional investigations.

The rationale behind congressional subpoenas is that to hold a fruitful investigation, Congress needs information. Congress cannot pass laws or amend them without certain information. Congress admits that it does not have some information at its disposal. Thus, in order to acquire information, Congress must issue subpoenas to gather the information from its holders.

This investigatory power is very broad. The Supreme Court has held that as long as the purpose of the investigation enables it to exercise one of its legislative functions, the investigation is valid as is the subpoena issued.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden

Founder

Attorney-at-Law

Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former DOJ Trial Attorney

Partner

Brian J. Kuester
Brian J. Kuester

Former U.S. Attorney

Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Joe Brown
Joe Brown

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior DOJ Trial Attorney

Linda Julin McNamara
Linda Julin McNamara

Federal Appeals Attorney

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former DOJ attorney

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (DOJ)

Chris Quick
Chris J. Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Michael S. Koslow
Michael S. Koslow

Former Supervisory Special Agent (DOD-OIG)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Constraints of Congressional Investigations

Although Congress retains broad power to conduct its investigations, this power is not absolute. Congress can only investigate as far as its authority to legislate stretches. Congress cannot investigate areas of which it has no authority, nor can it investigate an individual without a reason tied to its legislative functions.

So, what can’t Congress do?

Congress cannot infringe on the powers of the other branches of government. Remember that all three branches of the federal government are equal. The separation of powers principle gives each branch its own power and states no branch can infringe or usurp the powers of the others.

For example, Congress cannot move to prosecute an individual for criminal contempt because they did not comply with their subpoena. Prosecutorial discretion is given solely to the executive branch. Thus, Congress can only recommend that the Department of Justice prosecute an individual for failure to comply with a subpoena.

Secondly, Congress cannot open a congressional investigation to harass or aimlessly investigate an individual. An investigation of a private individual must be related somehow to Congress’s legislative powers.

Lastly, Congress cannot use its congressional investigatory powers to intrude on the powers of the state governments. That would violate the principle of federalism – that the federal government is separate from the state governments.

Noncompliance of Congressional Subpoenas

Because congressional subpoenas are a legitimate aspect of Congress’s investigatory power, the law provides for a way to enforce the subpoenas.

Historical precedent and the Supreme Court have permitted Congress to make use of different mechanisms to compel compliance with its subpoenas. If you do not comply with a subpoena, Congress has three options. First, it can use its inherent contempt power and hold you in contempt of Congress and have you detained until you cooperate. This option, however, has not been used for over 80 years.

Secondly, Congress can petition the Department of Justice to bring criminal charges against you under the criminal contempt statute, which makes it a criminal offense to not comply with a congressional subpoena. Or Congress can bring a civil action in civil court to enforce the subpoena.

Call Oberheiden, P.C. Now!

Detailed Representation: At Oberheiden, P.C., we won’t just study your case and your story. We will study the mindset of the congressional committee investigating you as well as the purpose of their investigation. Our attorneys will gather all the information about the committee and their end goals for you and the investigation. With this, we can prepare you to testify before Congress and to produce the requested documents.

Congressional investigations are complicated proceedings. Each committee makes its own procedural rules on the proper etiquette and happenings of the investigations. Further, sometimes subcommittees will implement their own rules for congressional investigations. Therefore, it is important to hire a law firm that understands how to navigate the committees.

Our attorneys know all the different processes and procedures in Congress. We have a well-developed record of advocating for clients and mitigating any damages that you can incur from congressional investigations.

Protection of Reputation: Being the target of a congressional investigation will take its toll and may damage you and your business’s reputation and goodwill. Further, it could damage the loyalty and trustworthiness that your customers and investors have in your business. At Oberheiden, P.C., we will do all we can to prevent your business from suffering throughout the investigation. We can advise you on how to handle the publicity your company may be getting as well as do any damage control to protect your good name.

Don’t let the cloud of a congressional subpoena prevent you and your business from prospering. Don’t delay. Contact us now and regain control of your business and reputation!

WordPress Lightbox