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October 29, 2019

ABA Legal Fact Check explores history, law of separation of powers

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2019 — Last Friday, a former deputy national security advisor to President Donald Trump asked a federal judge to determine which pre-empts the other: a congressional subpoena or an order from the White House invoking executive privilege and confidentiality of presidential conversations.

The suit, if it moves forward through the courts, could eventually be a significant case dealing with constitutional issues related to the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. As a new ABA Legal Fact Check posted today suggests, it is the latest in a series of historical conflicts that have arisen from the U.S. Constitution’s separation-of-powers clauses.

The fact check recounts how historically the judiciary, as the third branch of government, is called upon to referee these competing interests, and it explores the legal guideposts that are rooted in the U.S. Constitution and case law that could determine this and other separation-of-powers cases.

ABA Legal Fact Check seeks to help the media and public find dependable answers and explanations to sometimes confusing legal questions and issues. For coverage of other timely issues in the news, these prior ABA Legal Fact Checks might be helpful:

  • Click here for legal and historical perspective on impeachment
  • Click here for legal backgrounder on contempt of Congress
  • Click here for under what circumstances, if any, a president would be above the law
  • Click here for legal look on the authority of a president to issue pardons
  • Click here on what legally constitutes the crime of treason

The URL for the site is Follow us on Twitter @ABAFactCheck.

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