Outside Publication

Constitutional Limitations on an SEC Investigation of a House Committee, BNA's Securities Regulation & Law Report

January 11, 2016

A current case, Securities and Exchange Commission v. The Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives and Brian Sutter, No. 14-mc-00193 (S.D.N.Y.), constitutes the most recent flare up of the historical tensions between the executive and legislative branches—tensions that frequently arise when one branch investigates the other.

On November 13, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered an order compelling the Ways and Means Committee and Brian Sutter, a former Committee staff member, to disclose certain documents that the defendants sought to protect from disclosure. As the court’s order demonstrates, the Speech or Debate Clause, U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 6, provides a key constitutional protection that limits executive power to investigate. 

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