Judge gives Cheney leeway on VP records

Jan. 19, 2009 at 10:30 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- A federal judge Monday lifted an injunction requiring preservation of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's records but said she expected Cheney to preserve them.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejected claims by a coalition of historians and government watchdogs who had argued that Cheney was planning to discard some records, The Washington Post reported. The judge said she expects White House officials "will in good faith, comply with the representations that their officials have made, by way of testimony, in this case" that key material will be sent to the National Archives in compliance with federal law.

The plaintiffs -- including Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians and the Society of American Archivists -- had argued that Cheney intended to use what they called a strained reading of the law to destroy or withhold much of the documentation of his record in office.

Stanley I. Kutler, a former professor of history and law at the University of Wisconsin Law School, said he is concerned that Archives officials "are going to find empty boxes" when they examine Cheney's papers, the Post said.

A Justice Department argument that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to sue was rejected, and the judge also rejected defense arguments that no court could review administration compliance with the Presidential Records Act, and that the law gave Cheney sole discretion to determine how to comply with it.

The judge said the law explicitly requires preservation of records created or received by Cheney and his office in the conduct of "constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties."

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