The Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee asked the justices to put off the arguments because Joe Biden has been elected president and a new Congress will begin in early January.
Lawyers for the House said that a “newly constituted” committee will determine whether it wishes to continue to pursue the documents. The Trump Justice Department said it had no objection to the delay.
The court’s action puts off a major separation of powers fight, testing the ability of the Justice Department to control grand jury information from a historic, deeply political investigation it conducted that could also aid congressional investigations. It could mean that the materials in question are never released if the new Congress decides not to pursue them.
The Justice Department is seeking to prevent the release of the information, which includes portions of Mueller’s report that were redacted to protect grand jury information and underlying grand jury testimony and exhibits that relate to certain individuals and events.
The grand jury materials in question could shed considerable light on Russian election-meddling and then-candidate Donald Trump’s response in 2016. Dozens of witnesses testified before Mueller’s grand jury, according to CNN reporting, including Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and at least two people who attended the infamous Trump Tower meeting in the summer of 2016.
If the court had moved forward with the case, the justices would have put the House in an unusual position because the justification lawyers used to pursue the documents was that the House was engaged in an impeachment proceeding. The fact that Trump will no longer be president removes that justification.
Arguments were set for December 2.
A federal appeals court in March sided with the Judiciary Committee, saying that lawmakers had a “compelling need” to view the secretive details. The Supreme Court granted the Trump administration’s request to take up the case, blocking the release of the documents while the appeals process plays out.