Rejecting the Bush administration's claim of immunity, a U.S. district judge ruled Thursday that the Congress can force White House aides to testify.
John D. Bates, a judge in Washington, said that former White House Counsel Harriet Miers is not immune from congressional subpoenas.
The House Judiciary Committee has been seeking to force Miers to testify before Congress about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.
The White House has been resisting, claiming she cannot be compelled to appear.
But Bates said the White House position "is without any support in case law," and the notion that "Miers is absolutely immune from compelled congressional process" is "unprecedented."
He added that the ruling does not mean that Miers and Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, from whom House Democrats have demanded White House documents, could not assert executive privilege during congressional testimony.
White House press spokeswoman Dana Perino said the Bush administration is reviewing Thursday's ruling.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said she was "pleased" by the ruling.