Congressional Investigations: A Study of the Origin and Development of the Power of Congress to Investigate and Punish for Contempt

Congressional Investigations: A Study of the Origin and Development of the Power of Congress to Investigate and Punish for Contempt

Congressional Investigations: A Study of the Origin and Development of the Power of Congress to Investigate and Punish for Contempt

Congressional Investigations: A Study of the Origin and Development of the Power of Congress to Investigate and Punish for Contempt

Excerpt

The recent experiences of the United States Senate in attempting to compel the testimony of witnesses and punish them for contempt in the course of its investigations, and the procedure of its committees in making these investigations have caused many questions to be asked concerning the inquisitorial power of Congress.

What constitutional and legal rights does Congress have to the exercise of inquisitorial power, that is, the power of investigation and its three ancillary powers, namely: the power to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses; the power to compel the production of papers and information; and the power to punish for contempt? Is there any express basis in the Constitution for the exercise of these powers? If not, what is their origin and under what interpretation of the Constitution may such powers be implied? Inasmuch as these powers are judicial in character, is it not contrary to the doctrine of the separation of powers for Congress to exercise them except where it has received a judicial grant in the Constitution? Assuming that Congress has these powers, is it not restricted in their exercise by the amendments to the Constitution guaranteeing personal rights? If so, to what extent? What is the difference between the powers of the House of Representatives and the powers of the Senate in this respect? What is the difference between the powers of either House of Congress in this regard and the power of Congress to enact legislation providing for the exercise of such powers? Can either House delegate the power to punish for contempt to . . .

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