Statement of Open The Government’s Executive Director on the Release of “Committee Confidential” Documents by Senator Cory Booker

Kavanaugh confirmation hearings expose a system so broken that Members of Congress are forced to take extraordinary action in an effort to restore fairness to the process

Open The Government Executive Director Lisa Rosenberg calls release of “committee confidential” documents by Sen. Corey Booker a bold but necessary step to uphold the public’s right to know

“Today, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) took the extraordinary step of releasing ‘committee confidential’ documents to the public in order to provide a more complete picture of Judge Kavanaugh’s record, as he seeks to become the newest member of the United States Supreme Court.  Senator Booker risked expulsion from the Senate by disclosing documents today relating to Judge Kavanaugh’s opinions and advice on racial profiling.

“In an unprecedented maneuver to thwart access to information and speed the confirmation process, the documents in question, and thousands more, were marked ‘committee confidential’ by lawyers for former president George W. Bush, meaning neither the public nor Senators outside of the Judiciary Committee would be able to review the documents to determine the Judge’s fitness for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.  Senator Booker’s decision to release the documents was an appropriate and much needed response to rules and procedures being ignored by the majority.

“Prior to the start of the hearings, we urged Senators to delay hearings on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination until a full review of all relevant records was complete. Instead of following long-standing procedures put place to prevent exactly this kind of politicization of disclosure of documents, the majority senators and Bush lawyers used unprecedented tactics to prevent the public from being fully informed.  Because of that failure to respect and uphold the public’s right to know, Senator Booker and Judiciary Democrats decided to take matters into their own hands, announcing they would disclose relevant records to the public. Even if, as is now being reported, the documents in question were cleared by former president Bush’s lawyer prior to being released by Senator Booker, the controversy has exposed a severely flawed review process from its inception.

“In the short term, the hearings should be suspended until a proper review of documents can take place under established procedures. In the future, disclosure rules should be adhered to and strengthened to restore trust and faith in this process.”