Rehnquist and the Supremes Going to Bat Again?
The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday it would decide whether Vice President Dick Cheney must release White House papers about the energy policy task force he headed two years ago.
The high court agreed to hear an appeal from Cheney, who is resisting a federal judge's order to produce documents about White House contacts with the energy industry in 2001.Imagine that, the administration being pleased the Supremes took the case. Predictions anyone?
Cheney's Justice Department lawyers say he is immune to the court order on grounds of a constitutional separation of powers.
The environmentalist Sierra Club and Judicial Watch government watchdog group sued in 2001 to find out the names and positions of members of the energy task force led by the vice president that year.
They allege that Cheney, a former energy company executive, drafted energy policy by consulting industry executives including Enron Corp.'s Ken Lay, making them effective members of his task force while leaving environmentalists on the outside.
Cheney was chief executive of energy and construction company Halliburton Co. from 1995 to 2000. His 2001 energy task force produced a policy paper calling for more oil and gas drilling and a revived nuclear power program.
Cheney has acknowledged meeting Lay, whose company collapsed in late 2001, but his lawyers say the task force was comprised of government officials, not corporate chieftains.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case in spring 2004, with a decision due by the end of June.
Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said the administration was pleased the Supreme Court took the case, saying the issues involved were "critical" to the effective functioning of the president and vice president.