A federal judge has rejected a pair of lawsuits in which the government had been asked to take action against the Department of State stemming from Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server while in office.
Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said in a ruling published on Monday that the arguments raised in a pair of since-consolidated suits filed last year by Judicial Watch and the Cause of Action Institute, two conservative groups, “are now moot and will be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.”
The groups had filed suit in hopes of having the attorney general’s office take further action against the State Department and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) over supposed violations of the Federal Records Act, legislation which mandates federal agencies to “make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures and essential transactions of the agency.”
In this week’s ruling, however, Judge Boasberg said that neither the State Department nor the National Archives should be faulted because the agencies indeed attempted to remediate the situation after learning about Mrs. Clinton’s email practices and has since begun vetting and releasing thousands of emails she had sent or received while in office.
“These are hardly the actions of a recalcitrant agency head or an uncooperative Archivist. Rather, they reflect a sustained effort on the part of State and NARA, after the agencies had learned of the potential removal of federal records from the government’s possession, to recover and preserve all of those records,” the judge wrote.
“Taken together, all of the recovery efforts initiated by both agencies up to the present day cannot in any way be described as a dereliction of duty. In light of this, Plaintiffs cannot establish an ongoing injury actionable under the FRA; as such, their cases are moot,” he added.
Thomas Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, said his group has already filed an appeal in federal court.
“There’s got to be this request to the attorney general,” he told Courthouse News this week. “It says ‘they shall’ and the court gets it wrong unfortunately, and that’s why we have to appeal.”
On Thursday, meanwhile, another conservative group, Citizens United, filed a Freedom of Information Act suit in an effort to force the release of emails sent to the former secretary of state’s top aides by her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.