Coalition calls for greater transparency and full access to records on Supreme Court nominee

Today, a nonpartisan coalition of government openness, accountability, and human rights groups called for comprehensive disclosure of documents relating to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. In a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the coalition raised concerns that records currently under review exclude information that would shed light on Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice. In order for the Senate to fulfill its constitutional “advice and consent” responsibility, Senators must have equal access to all documents relevant to the nominee, in as timely and complete a manner as possible.

“The Senate’s ability to make an informed decision on whether to confirm a Supreme Court nomination has tremendous consequences for the nation,” said Lisa Rosenberg, Executive Director of Open The Government. “Congressional leaders and everyone involved must do their part to ensure that senators from all parties are able to request and access the documents they need so they are not making that decision in the dark.”

The letter cites a complaint from Senator Dianne Feinstein, who wrote that the National Archives is preventing the minority party from having an equal say in which records related to Judge Kavanaugh will be disclosed. The records now under review reportedly exclude his time as White House Staff Secretary, when Judge Kavanaugh drafted and revised executive orders, worked on legislation, and reviewed and amended policy documents for the president. Additionally, the coalition wrote former President George W. Bush requesting that he not interfere with the Senate’s ability to equally obtain records on Judge Kavanaugh’s background. Chairman Grassley and representatives of the former president reportedly negotiated selective access records on Kavanaugh’s career. Because the records in Mr. Bush’s possession are fundamentally important to preserving historical memory of government policy, the letter requests that he ensures equal access to the records in a non-partisan and transparent manner.

Read the full letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee here, and to former President George W. Bush, here.