On Sept. 26, President Trump announced that he would nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to to the U.S. Supreme Court. American Oversight has renewed its request that its FOIA for records related to her circuit court nomination be processed on an expedited basis.
American Oversight requested expedited processing in our initial inquiry regarding these documents, which the Justice Department denied on Sept. 24, citing that Barrett was not at that time a nominee.
American Oversight has expanded its investigation into the president’s list of potential nominees to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
This week, American Oversight filed a suite of public records requests seeking documents that may shed light on the backgrounds and legal perspectives of individuals who were on President Donald Trump’s short list, including Amy Coney Barrett, Britt Grant, and Barbara Lagoa — all federal judges appointed to their current seats by the president — as well as Deputy White House Counsel Kate Todd.
American Oversight had already filed a number of Freedom of Information Act requests to investigate other names that had been floated as potential nominees over the past couple of years, such as Trump-appointed judge Amul Thapar, who has close ties to Sen. Mitch McConnell, and former Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who helped defend some of the administration’s most controversial policies.
Here’s a summary of what we’ve requested so far related to the frontrunners:
Barrett is a jurist who serves as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, to which Trump nominated her in 2017, and teaches law at Notre Dame. We are seeking information from the Department of Justice relating to her nomination to either the Seventh Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lagoa currently serves as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit — a post to which she was nominated by Trump in 2019. But before that, Lagoa had an extensive legal career in Florida. We requested her communications and calendars from her time on the Florida Third District Court of Appeals and on the state supreme court, and we also requested communications between Gov. Ron DeSantis and select members of his staff with outside groups related to Lagoa’s appointment to the state supreme court.
Prior to becoming a judge, Lagoa served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Florida, so we filed requests with the Justice Department for her ethics documents, calendars, and external communications from this time.
Grant also serves as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, a role she’s served in since 2018. She previously served as Georgia’s solicitor general and on that state’s supreme court, so we’re seeking information from Georgia about her work there, including her communications with anti-abortion rights groups.
Deputy White House Counsel Kate Todd previously worked in private practice and as the chief counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Litigation Center. We are requesting information from the Department of Justice regarding her communications with the agency as well as any discussions about Todd by select officials within the agency.
American Oversight also filed a request with the Department of Health and Human Services for communications from Roger Severino — a conservative activist currently serving as the director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights — with or about the potential nominees, or with conservative judicial groups like the Federalist Society. Severino is married to the head of the Judicial Crisis Network, an organization that pushes for conservative judicial nominations..
“There is every indication that the president and majority leader share a commitment to getting a nominee selected and confirmed as quickly as possible,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “Justices serve for life — rushing to appoint a nominee without thoroughly considering their qualifications is dangerous and shortsighted. The public is entitled to documents that may shed light on candidates for one of the most important jobs in our democracy.”
The new requests, previously released documents, and updates on American Oversight’s supreme court investigation are available here.
Part of Investigation: