Court clears way for Jan. 6 inquiry to obtain Ward’s phone records
“The investigation, after all, is not about Ward’s politics; it is about her involvement in the events leading up to the January 6 attack, and he seeks to discover those with whom she communicated in relation to those events. The fact that some of the people Ward contacted may be members of a political party does not establish that the subpoena is likely to reveal « sensitive information about [the party’s] members and supporters,” wrote Justices Barry Silverman, appointed by President Bill Clinton, and Eric Miller, appointed by President Donald Trump.
The third panel member, Judge Sandra Ikuta, dissented and said she would have granted Ward’s request to block the subpoena.
« The communications at issue here between members of a political party about an election involve a fundamental right of association protected by the First Amendment, » wrote Ikuta, an appointee of President George W. Bush.
« Even assuming that the government’s interest in investigating the events of January 6, 2021 is sufficiently substantial, the committee has provided no evidence or plausible reason to believe that Ward’s contacts (whether political associates, family or friends) were involved in the events of January 6 or explain why information about his communications affects the Committee’s investigation,” Ikuta added in his dissent, which ran to 10 pages — two more than the order of the majority.
Ward’s attorney, Alexander Kolodin, expressed disappointment with the court’s decision.
« I’m skeptical of the majority’s reasoning that ‘the investigation, after all, is not about Ward’s politics,' » Kolodin told POLITICO via email. “But Judge Ikuta’s dissent is a fiery defense of the First Amendment in an era that seems to have forgotten it. As long as judges like her exist, there is still hope for America.
Last month, Arizona-based U.S. District Court Judge Diane Humetewa, an appointee of President Barack Obama, denied Ward’s initial request for an injunction to block the subpoena.
However, on Tuesday, the 9th Circuit panel temporarily halted the subpoena. The court order on Saturday lifted that temporary suspension.
Ward could seek redress from a larger 9th Circuit panel or the Supreme Court. Kolodin did not immediately respond to questions about his intention to take such action.