July 06, 2009

PRLDEF Documents Irrelevant? Not According to the Questionnaire

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently joined fellow committee member Senator Jeff Sessions' request for more documents detailing the activities and policy positions of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund while Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was a member of its Board of Directors. Their appeal was met with a dismissive letter from White House Counsel Greg Craig.

In the letter, he writes:

The documents you are now seeking are not relevant to her nomination, just as similar documents not written, edited, or approved by past nominees have not been viewed as relevant to the Committee's consideration of those nominees.

Perhaps Mr. Craig should reread (or read, as the case may be) the Judiciary Committee's questionnaire, which was sent to Judge Sotomayor and requires her to supply certain documents to the Committee for review.

Question 12 Part b specifically states:

Supply four (4) copies of any reports, memoranda, or policy statements you prepared or contributed to the preparation of on behalf of any bar association, committee, conference, or organization of which you were or are a member or in which you have participated as defined in 11a [PRLDEF is listed in her response to this question]. Include reports, memoranda, or policy statements of any working group of any bar association, committee, or conference which produced a report, memorandum, or policy statement, even where you did not contribute to it.

Now I am not one to judge whether or not the inclusion of such documents in confirmation hearings is appropriate, but no one can deny the question explicitly demands that the nominee provide these documents to the Judiciary Committee. The Obama administration's attempt to block their release suggests that either they contain potentially controversial information, or that the administration does not want to provide Republicans with more files to examine and thus more reason to demand that the hearings be delayed. Neither of these options should be considered a credible excuse for their behavior.

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