The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that New York prosecutors can subpoena years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
The ruling is a blow to Trump, who argued that as president he should be completely immune from a grand jury subpoena, and the Justice Department, which didn’t embrace Trump’s immunity argument but pushed for a higher standard for state prosecutors to meet before they could get the president’s records.
The majority decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., who was joined by the justices from the court’s liberal arm. Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s two nominees to the court, agreed that Trump was not absolutely immune from the subpoena.
Thursday’s decision does not mean the public will get to see Trump’s tax returns, however. By law, documents subpoenaed as part of grand jury investigations are secret. Trump has refused to release his tax returns, first as a candidate and later as president.
In a separate decision also released on Thursday, the court revived a fight between Trump and House Democrats over congressional subpoenas for Trump’s financial records — a majority of the court ruled that the lower courts, which had sided with the congressional committees, failed to fully consider the separation of powers issues at play, and kicked the cases back down for more proceedings.
While the court didn’t rule out the possibility that the committees could win in the end, it’s still something of a victory for Trump because it at least delays the issue. Democrats have been trying to get his financial records for more than a year.