Filed at 10:46 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush’s top advisers are not immune from congressional subpoenas, a federal judge ruled Thursday in an unprecedented dispute between the two political branches.
The House Judiciary Committee wants to question the president’s chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and former legal counsel Harriet Miers, about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys. But President Bush says they are immune from such subpoenas. They say Congress can’t force them to testify or turn over documents.
U.S. District Judge John Bates disagreed. He said there’s no legal basis for that argument. He said that Miers must appear before Congress and, if she wants to refuse to testify, she must do so in person.
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This adds to a string of judicial decisions knocking down the Bush administration’s efforts to locate a seemingly universal, and unassailable, power in the executive branch. Needless to say, the unitary executive theory is not have a good year.