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Delaware court blocks release of Biden's Senate papers

The university says Biden donated the documents on the condition they not be released until they have been "properly processed and archived."

Published: July 20, 2023 11:01pm

(The Center Square) -

(The Center Square) — Delaware’s highest court has blocked a request by conservative groups seeking to access President Joe Biden’s Senate papers at a state university.

The July 6 ruling by the Delaware Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision that sided with the University of Delaware in denying a request from Judicial Watch and another group seeking access to the records, which Biden gifted to the public university in 2012.

Judicial Watch and the Daily Caller News Foundation submitted a formal public records request to the university in 2020 to review the documents. But the university rejected the request, arguing that Biden's Senate papers aren't considered public records because they don’t involve the expenditure of state money by the university.

A state Superior Court judge sided with the university, rejecting the records request, but the groups appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to take up the case.

In the request for an appeal, lawyers for the groups said the files are of "paramount interest for citizens and the free press" but have been "kept under lock and key by the university.

"Efforts to review those files by Appellants and others have been systematically blocked by the University and denied by the Delaware Attorney General’s Office and the Superior Court," they wrote in a 39-page legal brief.

The lawyers said the university had "failed to prove that no public funds are utilized" for the upkeep of the Biden Senate papers and argued that the failure to release public documents of "national significance" will have a chilling effect on free speech and freedom of the press.

"Critical to this freedom is the ability of the press and other citizens to access documents concerning the operation of our government and the day-to-day handling of affairs by our elected representatives," they wrote. "Stifle access, and liberty is hindered."

The plaintiffs also pointed out that national media organizations, including the Washington Post, have also tried to access Biden's Senate papers but also have been denied.

The university says Biden donated the documents on the condition they not be released until they have been "properly processed and archived."

"The university is bound by, and will comply with, the agreement," reads a statement on its website. "Until the archival process is complete and the collection is opened to the public, access is only available with President Biden’s express consent."

The documents include 1,850 boxes of archival records and 415 gigabytes of electronic records from Biden’s long U.S. Senate career, from 1973 through 2009, according to court filings.

Judicial Watch said the records could contain information about the case of Tara Reade, who accused Biden of sexual assault in 2020 and later fled to Russia. The group says Reade has suggested that the records could contain evidence supporting her allegations.

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