Court Orders Cheney to Preserve Records in CREW Lawsuit
Today U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary injunction in CREW, et al. v. Cheney et al., requiring Vice President Cheney, the Office of the Vice President, the Executive Office of the President, that archivist and the National Archives and Records Administration to preserve all vice presidential records, broadly defined to encompass all records relating to the vice president carrying out his constitutional, statutory or other official or ceremonial duties. CREW, two individual historians and groups of historians and archivists brought this lawsuit challenging the vice president's narrow interpretation of his obligations under the Presidential Records Act, based in large part on his claim that he is not part of the executive branch. In granting CREW and the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction, the court rejected the arguments of the White House -- set forth in two sworn declarations -- that they were preserving all vice presidential records, which they defined narrowly to include only functions "specially assigned" to the vice president by the president and his duties as president of the Senate. The preservation order issued by the court was based in a finding that plaintiffs have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits and will suffer irreparable harm without the requested relief. As Judge Kollar-Kotelly noted, "[t]he American public . . . has a right to the preservation of all records encompassed by the PRA's statutory language."
Anne Weismann, CREW's chief counsel, hailed the ruling rejecting the vice president's efforts to cloak his actions in a mantle of secrecy by declaring himself a fourth branch of government.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Stephen Santulli at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.