Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Judge Rules Public Interest Outweighs Former Sen. John Ensign’s Privacy Interest

The Department of Justice has been ordered by a federal judge to identify documents it has been refusing to disclose in the investigation of a former U.S. senator.

U.S. District Judge John Bates has ordered the DOJ to prepare a Vaughn Index, specifically identifying which documents in the investigation of former Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., the agency is withholding and why.

The judge issued the order on Friday in the case of CREW v. U.S. Department of Justice. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had sued DOJ for release of the documents, after DOJ declined to prosecute Ensign. A special counsel hired by the Senate Ethics Committee had found the senator’s conduct appeared to violate federal laws, and the committee referred the matter to DOJ.

In his ruling, Judge Bates found Sen. Ensign’s privacy interests were outweighed by the substantial public interest in records that would shed light on the DOJ investigation and the decision not to bring charges against the senator.

View CREW statement. View the court opinion.

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