Watchdog group Fix the Court, represented by American Oversight, filed complaints in federal court today to uncover records documenting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s previous government service – including his work on the Starr commission in the 1990s and his time in the White House under President George W. Bush.
“As we learned with the Gorsuch nomination, federal agencies seem determined to make it as difficult as possible to obtain public records from judicial nominees,”FTC executive director Gabe Rothsaid. “With heightened interest in Judge Kavanaugh’s eventful time in government, the National Archives and the Justice Department should seek to resolve these complaints quickly and release the documents so the American public and their representatives in the Senate can make a more informed judgment ahead of a confirmation vote.”
“Given the potential impact of this nomination, it is essential for the American people and the Senate to fully vet Judge Kavanaugh,” American Oversight executive director Austin Evers said. “It’s not unrealistic to think that the Supreme Court could be ruling on issues related to an investigation of the president or the relationship between the White House and the Justice Department, and the public has a right to examine Judge Kavanaugh’s track record before the Senate votes on his confirmation.”
The lawsuits against the National Archives and Records Administration and the Justice Department were both filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and ask a federal judge to order the agencies to comply with requests submitted months ago under the Freedom of Information Act.
On April 4, 2018, FTC requested from NARA, which houses records from the Office of Independent Counsel Ken Starr, all of Kavanaugh’s correspondence, notes and memos from his time in the OIC (1994-98), as well as any complaints made against him by members of the public and any performance reviews, warnings or reprimands he was given. The response FTC received on June 12 stated that the combined volume of Kavanaugh files “is estimated at 20,000 pages,” and while some of those pages could be released within “approximately 22 months,” the bulk of the request would take more than five years to fulfill since the agency is “currently processing requests received in February 2013.” This delay would far exceed the statutory FOIA deadline and, more critically, would deny the public the ability to fully assess Kavanaugh’s record before the Senate votes on his confirmation. The NARA complaint is below:
On Sept. 5, 2017, FTC requested all correspondence sent by the assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel and his or her primary deputy to Kavanaugh, and vice versa, during the years Kavanaugh worked in the White House (2001-06), both as staff secretary and in the counsel’s office. FTC has not received any records from DOJ. The DOJ complaint is below:
More details about Fix the Court’s investigation into Judge Kavanaugh can be found at FixTheCourt.org.