Amicus Brief: Donald J. Trump v. Bennie G. Thompson, et al. (Executive Privilege Case)

U.S. Supreme Court

On January 4, 2022, States United Democracy Center along with a bipartisan coalition of former federal, state, and local officials, filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court opposing former President Donald Trump’s attempt to block the release of documents about the January 6 insurrection. Counsel for amici included States United Democracy Center and Perry Guha LLP. The House of Representatives’ Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol (the Select Committee) requested the records from the National Archives as part of its ongoing investigation into the violent attack on the Capitol during the Joint Session of Congress to certify the electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election. In October, Trump filed a lawsuit to block the release of the records, citing executive privilege. U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan denied Trump’s request for an injunction, and a panel for the Circuit Court upheld that ruling. Trump has asked the Supreme Court to stop the National Archives from turning over the documents to the Select Committee. 

Capturing the perspective of former federal officials and state and local leaders, including those who have overseen or administered elections, the brief argues that Judge Chutkan’s ruling should stand because:

  • The sitting president and Congress agree that turning over the records is important to our democracy. Former federal, state, and local officials know that, in our democratic system, former officeholders simply have no authority to invoke their old privileges in defiance of the incumbents.
  • Congress needs the documents so that it can better understand the planning and implementation of the January 6 attack. That understanding is critical because state and local officials are relying on Congress to enact laws protecting our democracy against future insurgencies.

Former federal, state, and local officials who are members of the States United bipartisan advisory board signed the brief. The list of signatories includes: Gregory A. Brower, Steve Bullock, Tom Coleman, Jack Conway, Frankie Sue Del Papa, Norman Eisen, John J. Farmer, Jr., Trey Grayson, Jim Hood, Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld, Jahna Lindemuth, Patricia Madrid, Tom Rath, Sarah R. Saldaña, Michael Steele, Christine Todd Whitman, Joyce Vance, and William F. Weld (bios below). 

On November 22, 2021, a similar bipartisan coalition filed an amicus brief in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit opposing Trump’s efforts to block the release of documents.

The case is ongoing. 

Related Documents  

1.4.2022 Brief

1.4.2022 Press Release

11.22.2021 Brief

11.22.2021 Press Release