This afternoon U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered the office of vice president Dick Cheney to preserve all records related to his office and the performance of his duties as the case proceeds. The order came in a case organized by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, together with the AHA, the Organization of American Historians, and the Society of American Archivists, and historians Stanley Kutler and Martin Sherwin.
In her opinion, Judge Kollar-Kottelly observed that she felt this order was necessary because it appeared the defendants in the case—the Office of the Vice President and the National Archives—were trying to narrowly define the records that should be covered by the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and to avoid specifying how the records would be transferred to the Archives.
The AHA is joining Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Stanley Kutler, Martin Sherwin, the Organization of American Historians, and the Society of American Archivists, in a lawsuit seeking to force the office of the vice president to preserve the records of his office through the coming transition in administrations.
As you probably know, the vice president has made various claims, most notably the argument that he is not part of the executive branch, to insist that he is not subject to the Presidential Records Act (PRA).
This article is cross-posted on the National Coalition for History’s web site.
On October 1, a federal district court judge gave historians and researchers a partial, but significant victory in a lawsuit questioning the legality of President George W. Bush’s Executive Order (EO) 13233, which broadened the rights of presidents and former-presidents to withhold federal records from the public. The judge struck down the section of the EO that allows a former president to indefinitely delay the release of records.
On March 8, 2007, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously approved H.R. 1255, the “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007.” The bill is expected to go to the House floor the week of March 12.
The National Coalition for History is asking everyone in the historical and archival community to contact their House member as soon as possible and ask that they support H.R. 1255. A summary of the bill is available below.
Here is a link to the NCH’s CapWiz legislative grassroots site.