WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan is temporarily blocking the turnover of phone records belonging to the leader of the Arizona Republican Party to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Kagan’s order Wednesday evening paused anything from happening while an emergency appeal by GOP state chair Kelli Ward is under consideration by the high court.
State party chair Kelli Ward has said her First Amendment rights would be chilled if investigators were able to learn whom she spoke with while trying to challenge former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election defeat.
A federal appeals court panel ruled 2-1 against Ward over the weekend and said the committee should get records of calls Ward made and received from just before the November 2020 election to Jan. 31, 2021. That includes a period when Ward was pushing for Trump’s election defeat to be overturned and Congress was set to certify the results in favor of Democrat Joe Biden.
Ward asked Justice Elena Kagan, who handles emergency appeals involving the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, to put the lower court’s ruling on hold.
Kagan did so temporarily Wednesday, saying the records should not be released for now. Kagan gave the House committee until Friday evening to respond to Ward’s Supreme Court filing.
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 24: Arizona Chairwoman Kelli Ward speaks during the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on July 24, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Ruling against Ward at the appeals court level were judges appointed by presidents of different parties. Barry Silverman, an appointee of former Democratic President Bill Clinton, and Eric Miller, a Trump appointee, both ruled against Ward. Judge Sandra Ikuta Ikuta, an appointee of former Republican President George W. Bush, dissented.
The appeals court ruling followed a September decision by a federal judge in Phoenix who also ruled against Ward.
Kelli Ward and her husband, Michael Ward, were presidential electors who would have voted for Trump in the Electoral College had he won Arizona. Both signed a document falsely claiming they were Arizona’s true electors, despite Biden’s victory in the state.