Court Battles

Supreme Court won't hear appeal from ex-Rep. Aaron Schock

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear former Rep. Aaron Schock's (R-Ill.) appeal of a lower court's refusal to dismiss criminal charges against him.

Schock resigned from Congress in March 2015 amid accusations of lavish spending on a "Downton Abbey"-inspired office redecoration. He was indicted a year later on charges of wire and mail fraud, theft of government funds, making false statements and filing false income tax returns.

In the indictment, the government alleged Schock obtained large sums of money by submitting false and fraudulent claims for reimbursement, including $25,000 for redecorating his House office, which included the purchase of $5,000 chandelier. The government argued furniture purchases are limited to those of "nominal value" under the Members' Representational Allowance.

Schock argued that the charges against him should be thrown out because they would require the federal District Court for the Central District of Illinois to interpret internal rules, which were adopted by the House to govern its lawmakers, violating the separation of powers.

The district court ruled that most of the counts in the indictment that implicated House regulations were not subject to dismissal.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said it lacked jurisdiction to consider the Rulemaking Clause claim and rejected Schock's claims that he is protected by the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution, which provides legal immunity to lawmakers and their staff for their activities in the legislative sphere.

Schock then urged the justices to review the decisions of the district and appeals courts.

"If uncorrected, the Seventh Circuit's decision will threaten the independence of the legislative function by granting the Executive undue power over its coequal Legislative Branch," he said.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, of the court's liberal wing, issued a statement respecting the court's refusal to hear Schock's case.

Four justices need to agree to review a lower court ruling.