Thursday, December 1, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

High court spurns Trump’s fake electors in Jan. 6 probe

The House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection wants the phone records of the Arizona Republican party chair, claiming she aided in a coup. 

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Supreme Court on Monday removed its temporary guard that was preventing members of Congress investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection from collecting the phone records of two fake electors from Arizona. 

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito noted their dissent to the order, but there is no opinion from them or from the justices in the majority who concluded that married osteopaths Kelli and Michael Ward are not entitled to an injunction. 

After the last presidential election, Kelli Ward, who heads Arizona’s Republican party, kept in communication with Trump and his staff while texting state election officials to “stop the counting” of ballots in Arizona. One month before the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Ward released a video in which she held herself out as one of the “true electors for the presidency.”  

The Wards had petitioned the Supreme Court last month to block a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee for their phone records surrounding the Capitol insurrection.

Justice Elena Kagan did grant a temporary stay, allowing the court to review briefs in the case, but Monday's order vacates that relief. 

Ward claims the committee is attacking her for her political beliefs. She and her husband have also argued that the committee’s access to their records would involve a broad set of data surrounding the 2020 election and could lead to information that connects them to political actors in the White House. 

Claiming the case represented “one of the most important First Amendment cases in history,” Ward told the court their ruling would set a precedent. 

“The precedent set here will be applied in the opposite direction if control of the House changes and Republicans initiate their own investigations or refocus the Committee itself for their own purposes,” the couple wrote.

The Jan. 6 committee countered that claim, arguing there was no broad legal issue involved in the case. 

“​​Kelli and Michael Ward’s application for emergency relief should be denied because they have raised no legal issue of continuing broad significance, and there is no conflict within the lower courts about the extremely narrow issue at stake here — which is ultimately a fact-bound question, given that the court of appeals rejected their claim even under the legal standard that they propose,” Douglas Letter, an attorney at the office of the general counsel for the House of Representatives, wrote in the committee’s brief. 

A federal judge dismissed a suit from the couple in September following the committee’s subpoena. A divided panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed the ruling. 

The court’s ruling comes as the Jan. 6 committee plans to wrap up its investigation. The committee plans to release a report on its findings later this year and is presumed to be dissolved when the new Congress is sworn in in January. 

Ward and her husband are represented by Laurin Mills, an attorney with Samek Werther Mills in Alexandria, Va.; Miami attorney Brant Hadaway; and Phoenix attorney Alexander Kolodin.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Loading
Loading...