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Return of the Star Chamber?

Are we witnessing a return of the “Star Chamber?” Democrats, already upending precedent with executive orders, non-compliance with Court decisions, worrisome legislation, talk of court-packing – just took two stunning decisions.

First, the Democrat House, which convened a lopsided “investigative” committee for extending public condemnation of criminal actions on January 6, issued subpoenas of individuals who – in the final months of 2020 – advised President Trump.

On its face, such a subpoena seems within congressional authority, but these subpoenas are transparently partisan, subvert traditional views of executive privilege – which survives office.

They also seem out of line with our Founders’ core principles. Congress’s oversight authority – for legislative purposes – is implied. Nowhere does the Constitution give Congress power to subpoena those advising a President, let alone hold them in contempt, indict, and punish.

A congressional subpoena – for “legislative” purposes – is authorized by tailored statutes and aims to check Executive Branch agencies. Within those limits, it has been upheld by courts.

As a former oversight counsel, my efforts focused on waste, fraud, and abuse, or alternatively “mis, mal, or non-feasance” in execution of laws, triggering a rare deposition subpoena. These subpoenas were usually “friendly” – allowing a “whistleblower” to speak.

Congressional subpoenas – suspect as partisan – have limits. These limits protect against abuse, preserve separation of powers, allowing advice to a president, are consistent with the assertion of executive privileges, and tend to be recognized by the courts.

When someone – like a former White House advisor and presidential confidant – is subpoenaed, then declines to comply, and is subsequently held in contempt by Congress, that is usually the end of it. Some accommodation follows, no deposition, certainly no criminal punishment.

While an intimidating criminal action against a former executive branch advisor is legal, that draconian remedy is almost never pursued – as it smacks politicizing the judicial process.

That is why no such action has been taken for half a century, back to Watergate-era recourse to the court. Dozens of contempt votes have been taken for subpoena non-compliance in 50 years.

Held in contempt by Congress have been people far more luminous than advisor Steve Bannon. Held in contempt have been Secretaries of State, Commerce, HHS, Energy, Interior, EPA, White House Counsels, members of the IRS, such as Obama’s Louis Lerner, and three Attorney Generals, including Janet Reno for non-compliance during Waco with a subpoena – we issued.

None was criminally prosecuted – or otherwise politically persecuted. None was indicted, threatened with prison, fines, or held up as a criminal.

By contrast, Mr. Bannon has been indicted, faces a double-misdemeanor charge, is cast as a criminal for unwillingness to share confidential executive communications. Does that make sense? Is that fair?

When contempt of Congress for non-compliance with a congressional subpoena was made criminal 50 years ago, the subject was an express criminal allegation against a president, buttressed by non-partisan, factual questions, nothing like this case.

Britain’s 18th Century Star Chamber proceedings began innocuously but accelerated to abuse –no attention to precedent, due process, rule of law. They criminalized non-compliance for politics.

As a leading expert notes: “The Star Chamber became emboldened to undertake further usurpation …finally summoned juries before it for verdicts disagreeable to the government, and fined and imprisoned them.” The Star Chamber abused due process for political persecution.

In Congress, as in the Star Chamber, abuse is abuse. Criminalizing advice to a president for unwillingness to share that advice is like Justice dispatching the FBI to prosecute – or persecute – parents as “domestic terrorists” for defending their children at a school board meeting.

Second, last week Congress stepped up their unjust overreach. Think “Star Chamber.” After a unanimous verdict in Wisconsin found a young man non-guilty on charges that could have put him away for life – a defendant pre-judged by Democrats – the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee immediately pushed Justice to re-examine the verdict, in effect question the jury.

How does that happen? How does this kind of political overreach happen in America? This is not 18th Century England, an all-powerful government running Star Chambers. This is not (yet) the Communist Soviet or Chinese model, where due process is irrelevant.

The answer is citizens are being pushed from top to bottom, parents, honest jurors, to former political advisors. Misuse of power is afoot, federal coercion not consistent with our legal tradition, interpretations of law, or proportionality. This overreach must stop.

Americans cannot allow abuse of power, misuse of process, unconstitutional legislation, disregard for Supreme Court rulings, or return of the Star Chamber. Our job is to speak the truth.

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Robin Walter Boyd
8 months ago

Progressive Socialists don’t refer to it as a Star Chamber. Socialists just refer to this as business as usual to have full control over the lives of a nation’s subjects, who once were considered to be citizens.

Art Clark
8 months ago

The notion that conservatives, or “rightists” as they have been called, do not support the good of our nation is a leftist talking point that has been beat into the American consciousness. It is a lie. Those who would be referred to as “rightists” are simply patriots who stand upon the constitutional law, constitutional government restraint, and traditional values. They are US. We haven’t moved to the right. We have simply committed the crime of not moving to the left. Thus we are painted and labeled as “extremists” and “domestic terrorists”. It is this lie of the left that has led to the January 6 prisoners being treated like the Russian gulags. It has led to the conservatives being forced out of the armed services or being demoted. It has led to the DNI, FBI, and the ATF to list domestic terrorism (particularly white suprematism) as the number one rising threat, when no such crimes or groups are on the rise. If you read the descriptions of “extremists” in these security bulletins, they describe the beliefs of everyday conservative Americans of every race, gender, and occupation. Don’t buy in and perpetuate this leftist lie by describing patriots as “in the middle”. The “middle” describes those who have already partially compromised with the leftists, or have co-opted themselves for gain. Those to the right of true conservatives are so few as to be inconsequential.

8 months ago

The Democraps continue to bring out measures and actions which typify a Communist government! But NOT in the scope of our present Constitutional laws. The Democrap Party gets scarier and scarier with each passing day.

8 months ago

so send us a petition to sign and we’ll happily protest this crazy overreach.

Rosalee Cavanaugh
8 months ago

I have always loved your articles. till recently. This 10 months of Biden dictatorship is non-stoppable. The Republican Party is allowing this demented president, an hysterical vice president, and unmerited cabinet to destroy this country. Write an article about how & why they cannot be stopped. I listen to the Congressional hearings and although great points are made, nothing happens EVER.

8 months ago

Why is that? I’ve been asking the same question for a few months now

8 months ago

Exactly right. We NEED to stick together and make these politicians (thugs) accountable or we will be just like other countries, without justice, freedom or liberty

8 months ago

“Smacks of politicizing the judicial process”…SMACKS?? That is the understatement of our century. Most if not all demorats are lawyers…they manipulate, twist, lie and destroy any and all legal actions by manipulating the courts. This is why they became “lawyers”…to do just that. The democrats are incapable, again with precious few exceptions, of anything resembling truth. They want to stack the supreme court? DUH! That way they can spread the fiction that our present and coming destruction was done “legally.” They have compromised our law enforcement, are in the process of trashing our military, maniacal to disarm we the people, they’re incapable of truth…IE: Biden yapping about a “supply chain problem??” HE AND HIS DEMORATS ARE THE SUPPLY CHAIN PROBLEM!
Understand this if nothing else: what comes out of the mouth of the left is a lie.

8 months ago

Democrats just make up rules as they go.

8 months ago

If you hate The United States of America, vote for Democrats.

Jorge L Rios
8 months ago
Reply to  Dave

NO, better yet move to Cuba, China, or Russia. We will gladly help you pack and give you a ride to the airport, no charge.

8 months ago
Reply to  Jorge L Rios

Yeah, you can move to China and be in comfort of knowing that Joe Hidin’ Biden is a true blue buddy of Commie China.

8 months ago


The Democrat Party is very, very enamored of Socialist regimes. Both the old Soviet Union and modern day communist China are both governance systems that Democrats have long wished for here. The unilateral, unlimited power of the government to harass, imprison and destroy anyone that dares stand against them, in any way, is something a number of Democrats over the years have openly admired. So it should come as no surprise that the Democrat Party, America’s Socialist Party is all but name, has adopted many of the traits found other socialist countries.

Our Constitution currently limits how far the Democrats can go, but they are constantly trying to stretch those boundaries or erode the restrictions on government that the Constitutions imposes on them via Federal Judge shopping and other tactics. That the process looks a lot like a Star Chamber shouldn’t be surprising. Essentially that is what the Democrats are shooting for at some point. You’re guilty simply because you were brought before the Star Chamber. It’s just a matter of what the Star Chamber decides you should be guilty of and then what your sentence should be. In both the old Soviet Union and modern day communist China, these are called show trials. Which is nothing more than what the average judicial proceeding in most socialist countries boils down to anyway.

Bill on the Hill
8 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

To add a bit of flavor to how justice is served in China… ” You are presumed guilty, until you prove otherwise. ” Does this sound familiar to anyone with respect to the treatment received by Kyle Rittenhouse & numerous others by a corrupt MSM, all the way to the WH… ? Zimmerman in FL, officer Darrel Wilson in Ferguson & numerous others, pronounced guilty by Big Tech, MSM & the WH itself going back to Obama & now Biden himself, he accepts Kyle’s acquittal, but he doesn’t like it…He doesn’t like it because Kyle is a ” white supremacist ” despite the fact his attackers were white… It is all a part of the racial disparity games the Democrats are full on board with, despite the fact the vast majority of Americans don’t believe this crap one bit in the least, myself included…
Bill on the Hill… :~)

Texas Resister 64
8 months ago

If Republicans have any sense, they will adopt the approach favored by Newt Gingrich. Abolition of Star Chambers (it even sounds corrupt) should be one of perhaps ten promises in a new “Contract with the American People” that Republicans run on this coming year, and then put into effect when power shifts.

8 months ago

These democrats are just self serving, corrupt, swamp creatures who care NOTHING about laws,justice,morality or honesty!!
SCUM that needs to be REMOVED!
Wake up America, wake up!

Dale cuthbertson
8 months ago

Got no use for demonrats repukes not much better written in them about problems I’m having get donation request.
My pr of blend don’t count!……
The 2 party system is broken defunct outdated looking for a new party to believe in- to he Patriots party with new rules run by everyday people not politicians The days of the Gods of Washington are over.

8 months ago

Wishful thinking

8 months ago

The list is right in front of us in this article…..abuse of power, misuse of process, unconstitutional legislation, disregard for Supreme Court rulings……These are the actual game plan talking points of the left. They will continue to practice such as long as opponents do not resist, fight back, tell the truth and show the nation just what’s going on. I trust only a few in congress…..very few. Most of these men and women are either working against the Republic or co-opting for gain. Middle of the road people in power are of no consequence. Leftists and conservitives(we may call them rightists, I suppose) march to drums that do not support the good of our nation. We have a huge mess on our hands and dam few patriots and states persons in places of power who have the capacity to bring about a reversal of this litany (the above list) of wrongful and outright immoral tactics. Left to run the course, we as a nation will no longer exist in any resemblance of our Constitutional form. That, in my opinion is what’s coming.

8 months ago

And act if need be, one day in the apparently not too distant future.

Stephen Russell
8 months ago

See the 1-6 Comm as a pure power grab bias panel day 1 IE Star Chamber?!

Bill on the Hill
8 months ago

For some reason Lois Lerner stands out for me as she was Obama’s hit man for the IRS against conservative groups applying for certain tax exemptions…She never admits to anything, pleads the 5th & retires from service with full pension benefits…Another one that stands out for me still, is AG Eric Holder, another beauty, never held to account for anything…Steve Bannon is correct to ignore
Congressional orders, it is all politically motivated nonsense…I think they are all running scared, they are not sure what Trump’s next moves are, they unsure of the Durham indictments & where it will all lead next, hence as predicted, numerus Democrats are seeking retirement as I think they see the writing on the wall…
Bill on the Hill… :~)

Stephen Lykins
8 months ago

Let’s not forget Ms. Clinton, her ILLEGAL server and deleted e-mails compounded by the unmitigated gall of thing she should be President!

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