WASHINGTON, DC—Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in federal court on Monday, accusing the commission of violating federal transparency laws. Prominent commission member Ken Blackwell responds by calling this lawsuit “an attack on the rule of law.”
President Trump created the commission by Executive Order 13799, which he signed on May 11, 2017. The commission’s mandate is to identify and combat voter fraud and other threats to the integrity of the ballot box on Election Day.
The president appointed Vice President Pence as the chairman of this bipartisan commission. Partisan Democrats and liberal activists have relentlessly attacked the commission, including its perhaps most visible member aside from the vice president, Ambassador Blackwell.
The ACLU argues that the commission is violating two sections of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). Specifically, ACLU lawyers argue that the commission’s composition is not “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed,” in violation of 5 U.S.C. app. 2 § 5.
These lawyers also argue that an initial organizational discussion that the commission had by telephone on June 28 violates the part of FACA codified at 5 U.S.C. app. 2 § 10, which requires bodies covered by the statute to give public notice of upcoming meetings and to make those meetings open to the public.
In its complaint filed in federal district court in Washington, DC, the ACLU is demanding that the commission provide “all the records, reports, transcripts, minutes, appendixes, working papers, drafts, studies, agenda, [and] other documents which were made available to or prepared by” the commission from the June 28 telephone meeting.
The lawsuit is also preemptively suing over the July 19 meeting, which is the first true meeting of the commission. The meeting will be held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), which is part of the White House complex and the location where most White House staff actually work. The ACLU argues that because EEOB is not accessible to the general public, this meeting will be an additional violation of FACA.
The lawsuit also attacks several commissioners by name, including Vice Chairman Kris Kobach, Hans von Spakovsky, and Blackwell, whom the ACLU accuses of making “unfounded assertions about noncitizens voting.”
“This lawsuit is the latest attempt by the Left to kill this commission in its infancy by attempting to delegitimize its vitally important work,” Blackwell exclusively tells Breitbart News in response to this lawsuit.
“These are the same people who are demanding an investigation of Russia’s attempts to meddle in U.S. elections,” Blackwell continued. “But part of this commission’s mandate is to explore threats to U.S. elections from any foreign actor—including Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, or anyone else—yet these same groups are trying to derail the commission’s work.”
“They cannot have it both ways,” Blackwell continued. “This cynical political grandstanding is absurd, but not surprising.”
“These are the same people who want us to embrace the ridiculous concept of voters without borders. For any democratic nation, that amounts to a complete gutting of the rule of law,” Blackwell concluded. “That’s what this lawsuit is: an attack on the rule of law.”
The case is ACLU v. Trump, No. 1:17-cv-1351 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.