The Senate cannot fulfill its constitutional mandate of “advice and consent” if senators do not have access to records on Supreme Court nominee
Today, a nonpartisan coalition of government openness, accountability, and human rights groups called on the Senate to delay hearings on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until a full review of all relevant records is complete. In a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the coalition told the senators that restricted access to information is plaguing public confidence in the process.
“Judge Kavanaugh is poised to shape the laws and policies of this country for a generation,” said Lisa Rosenberg, Executive Director of Open the Government. “Senators cannot determine his qualifications for this lifetime appointment unless they have complete access to his records and the time to review them.”
Using an unprecedented tactic, the Senate Judiciary Committee is circumventing the Presidential Records Act by relying on a representative of former president George W. Bush to provide records pertaining to Judge Kavanaugh’s tenure in the Bush White House. President Bush’s lawyers are marking those documents “confidential” and are withholding them from other senators and the public. The result of this unconventional track is that the public will never know what information is missing from the review.
With confirmation hearings scheduled to begin on September 4, openness advocates are pursuing public records litigation and Democratic senators have been forced to file their own FOIA requests for the missing documents – an extraordinary measure which can take months to yield any information.
In order for senators to fulfill their constitutional obligation, they must have a full understanding of Judge Kavanaugh’s White House record, his positions, and policy choices. We urge lawmakers to guarantee that all senators and the public are adequately informed prior to making a decision that has vast and long-lasting ramifications for the nation.
Read the coalition letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee here.