On Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a mystery foreign firm, forcing the firm to continue paying hefty fines for contempt of court as it continues to refuse to answer Mueller’s subpoena.
The unnamed company, which has been listed in court filings as belonging to “Country A,” has refused to turn over requested documents to United States investigators, incurring daily fines as it challenged Mueller’s subpoena in court. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issued a temporary stay on the fines last week while the Court considered the company’s appeal, but the Court today issued an unsigned order refusing to dismiss the citation. There were no known dissents within the Supreme Court’s order, according to CNN.
The firm has argued that complying with the subpoena would violate the laws of its home country and has sought shelter behind the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which limits foreign governments from being sued in United States courts. Prior to receiving the Court’s response regarding the continuation of the daily fine, the company earlier today asked the Supreme Court to review the legality of the case, according to CNBC. The Court has not yet responded to this newer request, and it is uncertain if the documents in question will be allowed to be withheld while the Supreme Court considers the case.
The appellate court had previously ruled that the subpoena fell within an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and that the company had not adequately shown that compliance with the request would be barred by its nation’s laws, according to Fox News. The D.C. Court of Appeals took up the case after the firm had lost at the trial level. The case was first brought to court by the unnamed firm in August as they sought to quash the subpoena issued by a grand jury in the Washington, D.C., District Court.
Supreme Court apparently backs Mueller, won't shield mystery company from having to comply with grand jury subpoena (and pay fines for not complying).https://t.co/6X1lH4LVZE
— Greg Stohr (@GregStohr) January 8, 2019
In a case that has been so secretive that an entire floor of a Washington courthouse was cleared last month to prevent the media from piecing together information about the case, almost all of the details of the case have been filed under seal. Tuesday’s ruling marks the first Mueller-related case to reach the Supreme Court.
The firm must begin paying $50,000 per day that it does not comply with Mueller’s subpoena.
Stephen Vladeck, a Supreme Court analyst and University of Texas law professor, said that it was unlikely the Supreme Court will become involved in the case. “The fact that no Justice publicly noted a dissent from today’s order suggests that the Court is inclined to stay out of this dispute altogether,” he said. This would cause the case to likely remain under wraps, as an appearance before the Supreme Court would likely make the case public according to precedent in the high court, which has never heard a case in complete confidence.
“If I am their lawyers, I am not optimistic, given that there were no recorded dissents,” Vladeck said. “So I think that the question is whether the mystery corporation is willing to keep paying the contempt fine while it presses the court to take the question on the merits.”