A federal law commonly called the “Seven Member Rule” requires executive agencies to provide information in response to requests joined by at least seven members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In this lawsuit, 17 members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform are seeking to enforce their requests for documents from the General Services Administration (GSA) relating to the agency’s 2013 lease agreement with the Trump Organization, an organization from which President Trump has refused to divest ownership since taking office, concerning the Trump Hotel at a government-owned building in Washington, DC. The lawmakers’ information requests are part of their oversight over GSA’s handling of potential conflicts of interest between Trump’s job as president and his role as a hotel owner. GSA, however, has refused to provide documents in response to the request. The lawmakers are requesting the court to compel the agency to comply with its mandatory duties under that law.
The plaintiffs in the suit are Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Wash.), Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Stacey Plaskett (D-N.Y.), Val Demings (D-Fla.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), and Mark Desaulnier (D-Calif.).
In August 2018, the district court dismissed the case, holding that individual Members of Congress lacked standing to sue for violations of the Seven Member Rule because the rights it created were institutional ones belonging to Congress as a whole, not to the subset of Members the statute empowers to obtain information from the Executive Branch. The plaintiffs filed an appeal of the decision in October 2018.