US Supreme Court dismisses clash over Trump hotel documents

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The US Supreme Court on Monday ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit by a group of congressional Democrats who had sought details about a government lease for a Washington hotel concerning when it was owned by former President Donald Trump.

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The court’s action came after the lawmakers voluntarily dropped the case earlier this month. The justices had previously agreed to hear a bid by President Joe Biden’s administration to block the lawsuit.

The case arose in 2017 when 17 Democratic members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee sued the General Services Administration (GSA), which manages federal government real estate. The lawmakers sought information about a 2013 lease of the Old Post Office building to the Republican former president’s company to convert it into a hotel.

The GSA had rejected several requests by a group of Democrats, whose party was then - as today - the minority in the House, saying they did not have the authority as individual members to conduct oversight.

The case pursued by the lawmakers had tested whether small groups of legislators have the proper legal standing to sue to enforce a federal law aimed at obtaining information from federal agencies.

A federal judge had previously dismissed the case, finding that the committee members did not as legislators suffer the kind of legal injury that would entitle them to sue.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit revived the case in 2020, concluding: “A rebuffed request for information to which the requester is statutorily entitled is a concrete, particularized and individualized personal injury.”

Biden’s Justice Department, defending the GSA, had appealed the case to the Supreme Court, saying that the case could set an unwelcome precedent by allowing just a few members of Congress, even fringe members of a minority party, to distract and harass executive branch officials.

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