Clarence Thomas Sole Dissenter as SCOTUS Allows Trump's Docs to Be Seen by 1/6 Committee

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday paved the way for the presidential records of former President Donald Trump to be transferred to the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

This all but ends a bid by Trump to keep his administration's documents out of Congress' hands.

The court handed down an 8-1 majority decision, with Justice Clarence Thomas—often considered among the most conservative members of the court—the lone dissenting vote.

With their decision, the court agreed with a prior ruling that the former president was unable to exert executive privilege, blocking an appeal by Trump's lawyers that would have prevented the documents from being released.

This ruling all but puts a bookend on Trump's appeal, which had been ongoing in an effort to prevent the U.S. National Archives from turning over his records. The former president's use of executive privilege was denied by President Joe Biden, and Trump then sued to prevent the documents from being released.

The first to deny Trump's motion was a federal District Court. The former president then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which also struck down the assertion of executive privilege, causing Trump to further appeal to the highest court.

Donald Trump
The Supreme Court has ruled that former President Donald Trump cannot use executive privilege to keep documents from the January 6 committee. Trump is seen above at a rally wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat. Robyn Beck/Getty

However, by blocking Trump's appeal, the final ruling of the appeals court will now stand as the final word on the matter.

A statement accompanying the majority decision stated that "the questions whether and in what circumstances a former President may obtain a court order preventing disclosure of privileged records from his tenure in office, in the face of a determination by the incumbent President to waive the privilege, are unprecedented and raise serious and substantial concerns."

"Because the Court of Appeals concluded that President Trump's claims would have failed even if he were the incumbent, his status as a former President necessarily made no difference to the court's decision."

A dissenting opinion was not published by Justice Thomas.

Trump's lawyers had previously argued that "Congress may not rifle through the confidential, presidential papers of a former president to meet political objectives or advance a case study."

"These sweeping requests are indicative of the committee's broad investigation of a political foe, divorced from any of Congress's legislative functions," his lawyers continued.

However, the Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling in a 3-0 majority opinion against the former president in December.

Judge Patricia A. Millett, writing the majority opinion, stated that "former President Trump has provided no basis for this court to override President Biden's judgment and the agreement and accommodations worked out between the Political Branches over these documents."

"Both Branches agree that there is a unique legislative need for these documents and that they are directly relevant to the Committee's inquiry into an attack on the Legislative Branch and its constitutional role in the peaceful transfer of power," Millett continued.

That opinion listed a number of legal standings for Trump's appeal to be denied, among them: The fact that President Biden's administration concluded executive privilege was not in the interest of the country, and that Congress had a "uniquely vital interest" in going through the documents.

As a result of the Supreme Court's order to uphold the Court of Appeals' decision, there appear to be no further roadblocks for the January 6 Committee to receive Trump's records. Approximately 700 documents related to the events of January 6 will be turned over to the committee for review.

These documents are reportedly related to the Trump administration's actions leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, as well as potentially the efforts of Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Included within these 700 pages are reportedly schedules for the president and his top officials, as well as notes and activity logs. Three handwritten pages of notes from Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, are said to be among the contents.

In a statement following the ruling, the January 6 Committee called the Supreme Court's decision "a victory for the rule of law & American democracy."

"The Select Committee has already begun to receive records that the former President had hoped to keep hidden & we look forward to additional productions regarding this important information," the statement continued.

Newsweek has reached out to former President Trump's team for comment.

Update (1/19/2022, 9:30 p.m. ET): This story has been updated with additional information and a new headline reflecting that Justice Thomas was the sole dissenting vote.