Question A.6, 2019 Political Law Bar Exam

A.6.

(Question A.6, Political Law, 2019 Bar Exam)

A committee of the Senate invited Mr. X and Mr. Y, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Secretary of Energy, respectively, as resource speakers for an inquiry in aid legislation. Mr. X refused to attend, arguing that the Senate, not its committee, has the power to compel attendance. Meanwhile, Mr. Y attended the committee hearing but upon being asked about discussions made during a closed-door cabinet meeting, he refused to answer invoking executive privilege. The committee members insisted that Mr. Y answer the question pursuant to the right of Congress to information from the executive branch.

(a) Based on his argument, is Mr. X’s non-appearance permissible? Explain. (2.5%)

(b) Is Mr. Y’s refusal to answer based on executive privilege valid? Explain. (2.5%)

Suggested Answer:

No. Answer

Under jurisprudence, once an inquiry is admitted or established to be within the jurisdiction of a legislative body to make, the investigating committee has the power to compel attendance and require a witness to answer any question pertinent to that inquiry. Rule

In the case at bar, it appears that the Senate investigating committee was duly constituted pursuant to an inquiry in aid of legislation. Accordingly, it has the power to compel the attendance of Mr. and to answer questions that may be asked pertinent to the inquiry. Apply

Thus, the non-appearance of Mr. X is not permissible. Conclusion

(b) No. Answer

Under jurisprudence, it is only the President who can invoke executive privilege. When an official is being summoned by Congress on a matter which, in his own judgment, might be covered by executive privilege, he must be afforded reasonable time to inform the President or the Executive Secretary of the possible need for invoking the privilege. Rule

In the case at bar, there is no indication that Mr. Y consulted with the President and was thereafter directed to invoke executive privilege on behalf of the President. Apply

Thus, Mr. Y’s refusal to answer based on executive privilege was not valid. Conclusion

Disclaimer: All information herein is for educational and general information only intended for those preparing for the bar exam. These should not be taken as professional legal advice or opinion. Please consult a competent lawyer to address your specific concerns. Any statements or opinions of the author are solely his own and do not reflect that of any organization he may be connected.

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