Public documents are -- get this -- public
At the time, I hoped that Bush would be forced to retract the move. Today, I get my wish.
White House visitor logs are public documents, a federal judge ruled Monday, rejecting a legal strategy that the Bush administration had hoped would get around public records laws and let them keep their guests a secret.
The administration, true to form, is expected to appeal the ruling. In addition, they went venue shopping:
The Bush administration had sought to have the case moved to another judge by consolidating it with a similar lawsuit before U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, an appointee of President Bush.
Lamberth, who served in the Justice Department before President Reagan put him on the federal bench, has roiled Democratic and Republican administrations alike with rulings rejecting government secrecy claims.
I'm happy to report, however, that that move failed:
On Monday, Collyer and Lamberth agreed to consolidate the two Abramoff-related cases before Lamberth, even though Collyer, in accordance with long-standing courthouse practice, would have dealt with both because the case she was hearing was the older of the two.
I suspect Collyer didn't want the hassle of ruling on a case involving the man who appointed her.
In any case, the principle of open records has been preserved for now. We'll see if the administration decides to push it further up the ladder. They may decide to give it a try just to string the case out until Bush's presidency ends, after which interest in Bush's visitor list will shrink significantly. That's obnoxious, but it's their right. My main concern is that the openness be preserved in the end, so that future inhabitants can't pull the same shenanigans.
White House, secrecy, politics, midtopia