In the case of Federal Trade Commission v. American Tobacco (264 U.S. 298 (1924)) it was held
that Agencies cannot conduct 'fishing expeditions' for information by issuing
subpoenas. If an agency's request for information exceeded that agency's
jurisdictional limits, you have the right to go to court and have them quash
The modern rule about 'fishing
expeditions' was later explained in United States v. Morton Salt (338 U.S. 632 (1950)), where the US Supreme
Court substituted the test, "is the Agency request for information reasonable?"
There is a substantial
burden on the person being subpoenaed to show that the request is not
In general, an Agency has
broad powers to ask for any information related to any tasks relevant to
that Agency's jurisdiction.