District Court Rules against National Archives in Lawsuit to Obtain Health Care Records from Clinton Presidential Library
OCTOBER 02, 2008
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman ruled against the National Archives on September 30th, refusing to dismiss Judicial Watch’s lawsuit to obtain Hillary Clinton’s health care task force records from the Clinton Presidential Library and denying the Archives’ separate motion to stay the lawsuit for one year (Judicial Watch, Inc. v U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, (Civil Action No: 07-1987)).
The National Archives filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that Judicial Watch’s original Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was overly broad. In the alternative, the Archives asked the court to stay the lawsuit for one year, citing a lack of resources and a backlog of requests. Judge Friedman rejected both requests.
“[The National Archives] argues that [Judicial Watch’s] request is inadequate because it is overbroad…otherwise valid FOIA requests are not overbroad or unreasonable simply because they seek a very large number of documents,” stated Judge Friedman in his opinion, while noting that the Archives “should have been better prepared” to process open records requests related to the Clinton Presidential Library. “The Court will deny defendant’s request for a stay of one year, and instead grant a stay of six months. Defendant is ordered to provide the Court with a status report regarding the processing of responsive documents approximately thirty days before the expiration of the stay.”
“We are pleased the court saw through the National Archives feeble attempt to stonewall the release of these records,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The American people have a right to Hillary Clinton’s White House records and the National Archives has a responsibility to provide them in a timely manner. It is time for the National Archives to stop stonewalling and to start complying with the law. In the meantime, we expect that the Clintons and the Bush White House to expedite the release of these documents as well.”
According to Clinton Presidential Library records, “The cabinet-level task force chaired by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was given primary responsibility for providing advice and making recommendations to the President regarding the national health care reform package.” A small category of Health Care Task Force-related documents have been released at the Clinton Presidential library but the majority of these records have not been disclosed. The National Archives admitted in correspondence to Judicial Watch that there are approximately 3,022,030 textual records, 2,884 pages of electronic records, 1,021 photographs, 3 videotapes and 3 audiotapes that must be reviewed. Judicial Watch filed its original FOIA request on April 4, 2006, and filed its lawsuit on November 2, 2007.