The House of Representatives, as most of us recall, has demanded that the Obama administration produce records about its response to the Operation Fast and Furious gun-running scandal. President Obama refused to produce some of those records based on the assertion of executive privilege. He asserted the privilege even though, as I understand it, the documents in question were never provided to the president or his advisers
The House held Obama in contempt of Congress and filed suit to obtain the documents.
The Holder Justice Department asked the court to toss the case. Its theory was, in essence, that courts should not become involved in these sorts of disputes between the legislative and executive branch. Instead, Holder argued, courts apparently should step aside and allow such disputes to be resolved through negotiations.
The irony of this argument, given the status of recent “negotiations” between the House and the President, may or may not have been lost on Judge Amy Berman Jackson, to whom the litigation is assigned. In any case, Judge Jackson rejected Holder’s argument yesterday. Jackson, by the way, was appointed by Obama.
The ruling means only that the court will decide whether the Obama had authority to assert executive privilege in this case. It does not tip Judge Jackson’s hand as to how she ultimately will rule. Jackson stated that her opinion “should not be taken as any indication of its views on the merits of the dispute, which have yet to be briefed, argued, or considered in any way.”