Setting up the potential for a petition to the Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit will not rehear a case in which former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) is trying to invoke a legislative privilege.
The appeals court released the latest decision in a one-page order today. The order says no judge on the full 9th Circuit requested a vote on whether to rehear the matter en banc, as Renzi’s lawyers had asked the court to do. As a result, the motion for rehearing was denied.
In June, a three-judge panel ruled that the U.S. Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause offers legislators only limited protection from some of the investigative tools of executive branch officers like FBI agents. Renzi is charged with using congressional authority over mining rights to pressure a private company into buying a piece of land. He has pleaded not guilty, and his legal team from Steptoe & Johnson and Nixon Peabody says the government violated the speech or debate clause while investigating him.
Outside observers have said the case has the potential for Supreme Court review, because the decision by the 9th Circuit panel explicitly split with a 2007 interpretation by the D.C. Circuit. Lawyers for the House have said the split is untenable.
A lawyer for Renzi did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment.