The Court of Congressional Contempt
Michael A. Zuckerman
U.S. District Court; Cornell University
February 4, 2009
Journal of Law and Politics, Vol. 25, No. 1, p. 41, 2009
This Article argues that Congress's contemporary practice of certifying instances of contempt of Congress to the U.S. Attorney for prosecution leaves Congress vulnerable to the prosecutorial discretion of the executive branch. Because of this vulnerability, the Houses of Congress should instead resort to the historical practice of ordering their respective Sergeant-at-Arms to arrest the contemnor and bring him to the bar of the offended chamber for trial and punishment. After laying out the need to resort to this common-law practice in certain cases, the Article discusses three procedures by which a modern Congress could punish for contempt: full-scale trial before the entire chamber; delegation of evidence gathering functions to committee; and referral of the matter to a proposed "Court of Congressional Contempt."
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
Keywords: Contempt, Contempt of Congress, Power to Investigate, Congress, Article I, Inherent PowerAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: February 5, 2009 ; Last revised: March 19, 2011
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