September 04, 2018

More Access to More Records by More People

In evaluating Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has greatly expanded transparency and access to relevant materials. As a result, a historic volume of records is accessible to more people than ever before.
 
More Records
 
 
HISTORIC VOLUME: The committee has received more pages of Executive Branch records for Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination than for the last five confirmed Supreme Court nominees combined.
 
PUBLIC RECORD: Public Executive Branch material for Judge Kavanaugh totals more than 290,000 pages, dwarfing the volume of public records for previous Supreme Court nominees by well over 100,000 pages.
 
HIGH PUBLIC RELEASE RATE: Nearly two-thirds of material provided by President Bush has been made public.  By comparison, nearly two thirds of Judge Kavanaugh’s emails that have been reviewed by the National Archives are restricted from the public (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3). In other words, President Bush released a greater percentage of documents than the Archives for the documents it has reviewed thus far.
 
More Access by More People
For previous nominees, confidential records were provided in non-searchable paper format and access was limited to committee members, committee chief counsels and the chief nominations counsel for the Chair and Ranking Member. Today that would be only 42 people. As a practical matter, access was further limited to the number of people that could review paper records at once.
 
For this nominee, Chairman Grassley established a process of receiving confidential material in searchable digital format on a software platform that allows simultaneous access, vastly improving and expediting the review process.
 
Chairman Grassley also insisted on granting access to all senators (not just committee members) members, all committee staff. That’s roughly 250 people.
 
Grassley set up computer terminals for non-committee Senators to review confidential documents and pledged to dedicate his own staff – on a 24/7 basis – to assist in searching and navigating the records.  Not a single off-committee senator took him up on this offer.