Legislation Providing for Court-Ordered Disclosure of Grand Jury Materials to Congressional Committees

Headnotes: 

Proposed legislation authorizing personnel of committees of Congress to obtain court-ordered release of matters occurring before a grand jury would violate separation of powers principles by encroaching upon the Executive’s control of prosecutorial matters and would entail a major departure from longstanding practices and traditions of grand jury secrecy.

Because the Executive alone is entrusted with the power to enforce the laws, the Executive alone should make the day-to-day decisions as to whether the release of law enforcement materials to Congress would interfere with its prosecutorial discretion.

Independent access by Congress to grand jury materials without the consent of the Department of Justice would seriously endanger grand jury secrecy and thereby weaken the grand jury as an institution.

Access to grand jury materials by other Executive Branch agencies should be limited to cases where access is needed for law enforcement purposes and should require the approval of the Justice Department.

Updated July 9, 2014