Old and busted: Keep the families out of the line of political fire! New hotness: Judicial temperament is best indicated by a spouse’s correspondence, or something. Despite the fact that Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, both the New York Times and Associated Press have filed FOIA-type requests to gain access to the e-mails of his wife Ashley:
The New York Times and Associated Press both filed requests under the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) seeking e-mails that Ashley Kavanaugh, the wife of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, sent as town manager of The Village of Chevy Chase Section 5, according to documents obtained by America Rising Squared (AR2) and shared exclusively with the NTK Network.
The two news organizations took different approaches to obtain the e-mails. According to the documents, the AP made a sweeping request for “all emails sent or received” by Ashley Kavanaugh’s Village of Chevy Chase email address.
By contrast, The New York Times is currently requesting that The Village of Chevy Chase Section 5 hand over “any emails to or from Ms. Kavanaugh that contain any of the keywords or terms listed below.”
And what a list it is, including words like “liberal,” “abortion,” “gay,” and “federalist,” while also explicitly asking for e-mails containing the names of certain individuals.
First things first. One has to wonder whether the PIA applies in this instance anyway. The Maryland AG’s office highlights the law’s balance between “a broad right of access to public records” and “the privacy rights of individual citizens.” In this case, it’s all but clear that the PIA request from the NYT and the AP isn’t to shine a light on the workings of Chevy Chase local government; it’s to invade Mrs. Kavanaugh’s correspondence to dig up dirt on her husband. The nature of the search parameters from the NYT make that excruciatingly clear, unless the NYT has an ongoing in-depth exposé on the use of “federalist” thought in local governments.
If I were Mrs. Kavanaugh, I’d tell them both to pound sand. They can take it to court, but that would take weeks, and by the time it was settled the hearing would be over. And in this case, it would be very tough for these two news outlets to argue that they have a particular right to rummage through a local official’s e-mails on the off chance that it might have something to do with her husband’s appointment to the federal bench, let alone the Supreme Court. This isn’t a case of public interest, it’s a case of prurient and biased interest for a purpose that has nothing to do with government operations in Maryland.
There is no other way to see this than an escalation in the judicial-confirmation wars. Whatever Ashley Kavanaugh writes as part of her job in Chevy Chase, it has nothing to do with her husband’s qualifications or temperament for the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh has served twelve years on the DC Circuit Court of Appeal, providing a robust track record of both his temperament and his qualifications. This is an intimidation tactic designed to discourage the next Supreme Court justice appointed by Donald Trump or any other Republican president, warning everyone that spouses will become fair game not just in electoral politics but in non-electoral politics as well.
John Hinderaker makes the point on bias succinctly:
But this is what I want to know: When Stephen Breyer, Ruth Ginsburg, Sonia Sotamayor and Elena Kagan were appointed to the Court, did the Times, or the Associated Press, try to investigate documents sent or received by their family members?
No, nor should they have. The New York Times and the Associated Press should be ashamed of themselves. They won’t be, of course, which is part of the problem.
Here are the e-mails acquired by America Rising Squared.