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Two Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee requested records from the National Archives on Tuesday related to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's time in the White House under President George W. Bush.
The request renews the records fight that dominated Kavanaugh's nomination hearings before the controversy was subsumed by sexual misconduct accusations against the then-federal appeals court judge.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., who chairs the subcommittee on the courts, issued a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration seeking records related to Kavanaugh's time as staff secretary and in the White House counsel's office. Kavanaugh served in the White House from 2001 to 2006.
In particular, Nadler and Johnson are asking for all emails Kavanaugh sent or received as well as the "textual records contained in [his] office files."
"In the coming year, the Supreme Court will again address important matters regarding civil rights, criminal justice, and immigration," the two lawmakers wrote. "The Court may also review certain high-profile cases related to reproductive rights, the separation of powers, and the limits of executive authority — all topics within the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee."
Nadler and Johnson wrote that they are seeking the records under the Presidential Records Act. The law provides congressional committees access to records that "contain information that is needed for the conduct of [their] business and that is not otherwise available."
The two lawmakers cited congressional efforts to promote ethics and accountability in the federal court system. House Democrats have proposed a bill that would direct Supreme Court justices to create a professional ethics code, though so far the legislation has stalled.
The Judicial Conduct and Disability Act applies to federal judges but does not apply to Supreme Court justices. In December, dozens of complaints lodged against Kavanaugh were dismissed on the basis of his confirmation to the top court. The Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States affirmed the decision last week.
A spokesperson for the Supreme Court did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
During Kavanaugh's confirmation fight in 2018, then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley sought records from the National Archives related to Kavanaugh's tenure in the White House counsel's office. He did not seek records from Kavanaugh's time as staff secretary.
Grassley ultimately withdrew his request for records after hundreds of thousands of documents were provided by a private attorney, William Burck, who oversaw the production of Kavanaugh's records.
Democrats at the time criticized the powerful Republican attorney's role in screening which records would be available to lawmakers.
There is no indication Nadler and Johnson plan to make Kavanaugh's records available to the public.