For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Derrick Robinson, Director of Communications, Lawyers’ Committee, DRobinson@LawyersCommittee.org, 202-662-8317

Aurora Matthews, Vice President, New Heights Communications, aurora@newheightscommunications.com, 301-221-7984

Sen. Merkley Files Emergency Motion in Historic Lawsuit Challenging Confirmation Process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh

WASHINGTON - Today, Senator Jeff Merkley (OR), filed an emergency motion asking a federal court for a temporary restraining order in a case challenging the Senate confirmation process for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The motion seeks immediate disclosure of privilege logs used by President Donald Trump and Defendant William Burck to withhold the extensive documents related to Judge Kavanaugh’s record during his tenure at the White House Counsel’s office. The motion also seeks immediate access to all documents deemed “Committee Confidential” by Defendants. Senator Merkley’s filing follows Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s declaration on Monday that “we will be voting this week” on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.

 “The Senate has a constitutional responsibility to review Kavanaugh’s record, but the Senate can’t fulfill that duty if President Trump, in this unprecedented move, withholds hundreds of thousands of documents,” said Senator Merkley. “The Senate needs to see Brett Kavanaugh’s full record before the Senate can vote.”

Last week, Senator Merkley filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against President Donald Trump, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley, among others, raising grave concerns with the executive branch’s interference with the Senate’s process of vetting and reviewing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh. The complaint notes that the level of interference and obstruction with the Senate’s efforts to review Kavanaugh’s record amounts to a violation of the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution.

The suit seeks injunctive relief by ordering that President Trump withdraw his excessive invocation of executive privilege and produce a privilege log for documents truly subject to executive privilege. 

Senator Merkley’s motion was filed just weeks before the National Archives indicated that they would produce documents related to Brett Kavanaugh’s time at the White House.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and civil rights firm Mehri & Skalet, who each serve as co-counsel, released the following statements:

“The Senate and the public deserve a Justice who has been fully and thoroughly vetted. The ‘advice and consent’ role of the Senate is an essential and necessary check on Presidential power and must be protected. Through this temporary restraining order, we seek to bring transparency to the confirmation process and restore the integrity of the Senate’s critical role in vetting nominees to our nation’s highest court. We will not stand by idly as this Administration works to diminish the critical ‘advice and consent’ role of the Senate in the Supreme Court confirmation process. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is proud to represent Senator Merkley in his effort to halt this ill-conceived and unprecedented executive power grab,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

“President Trump has violated the U.S. Constitution by negating the ability of the U.S. Senate to carry out its vital advice and consent duties under our constitution.  While President Trump attempts to tear down our system of checks and balances,  our temporary restraining order today seeks to lift up our system of checks and balances by seeking to obtain key documents on the new nominee,” said Cyrus Mehri, founding partner of Washington, D.C.-based firm Mehri & Skalet, PLLC.

Senator Merkley’s suit was assigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson. A copy of the full original filing is available here. A copy of today’s filing asking for emergency relief is available here.

Find more information on the suit here.

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The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law.

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