Word from sources that Federal District Judge John Bates has denied the White House the stay it sought in the House Judiciary Committee's suit to enforce its contempt of Congress citations against Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten.
Bates' opinion, while ostensibly dealing with the Miers and Bolten cases, was clearly written with the Karl Rove contempt freshly in mind as well.
Without the stay in place, Miers and Bolten are under court order to appear before the House Judiciary Committee for questioning in connection with the dismissals of the U.S. Attorneys. No such order is currently in place for Rove, but Bates was clear in his reasoning that Rove would have even less grounds for any refusal to appear than Miers and Bolten ever did, since the White House has never actually asserted any executive privilege claims with respect to Rove's testimony. Miers and Bolten, though, would technically still be in compliance with the order if they agreed to appear, but asserted the same claims of executive privilege in person that they did in letters from their attorneys before. Rove, if he continues to refuse to appear, would undoubtedly find himself subject to a court order to appear. But he's not under one now.
Living in Republican Crazytown as we do, we still have to ask the question, "What if?"
What if Rove refuses to take the hint? Or for that matter, what if he refuses to appear, has a court order entered against him, and refuses anyway? Or if Miers and/or Bolten do the same?
Then we face the question that has always been at the bottom of this issue: can Article III force Article II to appear before Article I? Or more specifically, can Article III order Article II to arrest itself and bring it before Article I?
What will Bates do if his order is defied? And how much patience will he have with continued gamesmanship -- e.g., an appearance before the committee that nonetheless produces questionable claims of executive privilege, or the entirely ridiculous "absolute immunity" claims Rove has made? Given that Bates was clearly factoring in the time limitations of Congressional subpoenas in his earlier opinion, he'll have to come down on Miers/Bolten/Rove like a ton of bricks if he wants to stay true to his ruling.