>>128846>>128848Inherent Contempt of Powers
[House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House]
[Chapter 17. Contempt]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]
Sec. 1 . In General
An individual who fails or refuses to comply with a House subpoena
may be cited for contempt of Congress. Eastland v. United States
Servicemen's Fund, 421 U.S. 491 (1975). Although the Constitution does
not expressly grant Congress the power to punish witnesses for
contempt, that power has been deemed an inherent attribute of the
legislative authority of Congress (Anderson v. Dunn, 19 U.S. 204
(1821)) so far as necessary to preserve and exercise the legislative
authority expressly granted (Marshall v. Gordon, 243 U.S. 521 (1917)).
However, as a power of self-preservation, a means and not an end, the
power does not extend to infliction of punishment. Manual
Sec. Sec. 294-296.
To supplement this inherent power, Congress in 1857 adopted an
alternative statutory contempt procedure. Sec. 2, infra. Thus, the
House may either (1) certify a recalcitrant witness to the appropriate
United States Attorney for possible indictment under this statute or
__(2) exercise its inherent power to commit for contempt by detaining
the witness in the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms.__ Manual Sec. 296.
The statutory procedure is the one used in modern practice, but the
``inherent power'' remains available. In one instance, the House
invoked both procedures against a witness. 3 Hinds Sec. 1672.
In contrast, the Senate may invoke its civil contempt statute (2
USC Sec. 288d) to direct the Senate legal counsel to bring an action
in Federal courtto compel a witness to comply with the subpoena of a committee
of the Senate.
Sec. 5 . Purging Contempt
A witness in violation of a House subpoena has been permitted to
comply with its terms before the issuance of an indictment. 3 Hinds
Sec. Sec. 1666, 1686. However, once judicial proceedings to enforce
the subpoena have been initiated, the defendant cannot be purged of
contempt merely by producing the documents or testimony sought. See
United States v. Brewster, 154 F. Supp. 126 (D.D.C. 1957), cert.
denied, 358 U.S. 842 (1958). At this stage, the House itself must
consider and vote on whether to permit a discontinuance. The committee
that sought the contempt citation submits a report to the House
indicating that substantial compliance on the part of the witness has
been accomplished; the House then adopts a resolution certifying the
facts to the U.S. Attorney to the end that contempt proceedings be
discontinued. Manual Sec. 299; Deschler Ch 15 Sec. 21. For example, in
the 98th Congress, after EPA Administrator Anne M. Gorsuch had been
cited by a prior Congress for contempt for failure to produce certain
documents to a House subcommittee, the House adopted a resolution
certifying to the U.S. Attorney that an agreement giving the committee
access to those documents had been reached. Manual Sec. 299.
Although witnesses cannot purge contempt after judicial
proceedings have begun, a court may suspend the sentence of witnesses
convicted of contempt and give them an opportunity to avoid punishment
by providing the testimony sought. Deschler Ch 15 Sec. 21.