Dick Cheney’s Day in Court

Dick Cheney's Day in Court

On Saturday, September 20, 2008, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued an injunction forbidding U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney from destroying his papers before leaving office. The judge’s decision was in response to a suit brought by The American Historical Association, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Stanley Kutler, Martin Sherwin, the Organization of American Historians, and the Society of American Archivists.

Mr. Cheney has contended that the Presidential Records Act (PRA) does not apply to his records because he is not in the Executive Branch, citing the Vice President’s role in presiding over Senate sessions. This novel Constitutional interpretation reminds us that Mr. Cheney flunked out of Yale and never went to law school.

The Vice President’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Claire M. O’Donnell, tried to change the definition of vice presidential records from the one in the law, excluding much of Mr. Cheney’s work on the National Security Council, his attempts to win reauthorization of the warrantless wiretapping program, and other instances where he worked without direct instructions from the President. It is not known where Ms. O’Donnell went to school.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly has ordered the Vice President to preserve all records, even those he wishes were not covered by the Presidential Records Act, until further litigation is concluded. She will allow him to start transferring the boring documents to the National Archives right away.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly is uniquely qualified to wrestle with the case presented by Mr. Cheney. She is a FISA judge, so the Veep cannot cloak anything in the secrecy of “National Security.” And Mr. Cheney’s most delirious arguments cannot mislead her; the judge has taught a Georgetown Med School course on mental health and the law.

Complete 22-page judicial opinion here.

 Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

This blog post is adjourned.

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