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The Supreme Court will no longer hear a case on whether Democratic lawmakers should have been able to sue to obtain documents related to a Washington, D.C., hotel former President Trump owned during his presidency. Congressional members dismissed the lawsuit last month.
After the high court last month agreed to hear the Biden Justice Department’s appeal in the case, Democrats dismissed the dispute in a lower court. Both sides then wrote to the justices agreeing that the Supreme Court should toss it as moot.
In a brief, unsigned order Monday, the justices vacated the lower ruling and sent it back with instructions to dismiss the case. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson dissented from the order, saying she would’ve instead used a different procedural mechanism to toss the case.
The hotel documents had largely fallen out of the dispute as the lawmakers obtained most of them through other means.
But the case was set to weigh how the minority party in Congress can scrutinize a presidential administration using a federal law known as the “Seven Member Rule.”
The Justice Department had asked the justices to declare that the Democrats could not sue in court to enforce the rule, which allows any seven members of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability or any five members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee to ask for information within their purview from executive agencies.
But after Democrats dismissed the case, the Justice Department said the Supreme Court should step away from hearing its appeal.
“Three weeks after the Court granted review, respondents filed a notice of voluntary dismissal in district court,” the Justice Department wrote to the justices. “Although that notice does not of its own force terminate proceedings in this Court, respondents’ abandonment of their claims does render this case moot.”
Democrats, who had urged the Supreme Court to not get involved in the case in the first place, agreed that the court should dispose of the case.
“Here, respondents do not appear to have formally withdrawn their Section 2954 request or explicitly renounced any attempt to seek the disputed documents in the future,” they wrote. “But under the circumstances, their notice in the district court and letter to this Court should be regarded as a definitive abandonment of their claims.”
Democrats for years had sought financial records related to Trump’s hotel, which was located on federal property a few blocks from the White House.
The General Services Administration (GSA) had leased the building, the Old Post Office Pavilion, to Trump to convert into a luxury hotel. Democrats raised concerns about the bidding process and potential conflicts of interest when Trump later served as president. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
But when Democrats attempted to use the Seven Member Rule to request documents about the hotel from the Trump-era GSA, the agency refused.
Since filing the suit, Democrats were able to obtain many of the documents through other strategies.
The Trump Organization later sold the hotel lease, and the building now operates as a Waldorf Astoria. Further, several Democrats who originally filed the lawsuit either died or left Congress.