Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan on Wednesday temporarily blocked the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection from accessing phone records belonging to the Arizona Republican Party’s chairwoman.
Kagan, who handles emergency matters arising from Arizona, granted a request made earlier Wednesday by Kelli Ward, the GOP chairwoman, and her husband.
The latest development comes after a lower appeals court denied the Wards’ bid to shield the records that congressional investigators are pursuing as part of their probe of last year’s pro-Trump riot at the Capitol.
The Jan. 6 panel, which subpoenaed Ward’s phone carrier, has expressed interest in her role as a phony pro-Trump elector following his loss in Arizona during the 2020 election. Ward and her husband, Michael Ward, were among a group of 11 Arizonans who signed a fake election certificate purporting to show that former President Trump won the state.
In court papers filed Wednesday, the Wards portrayed the Jan. 6 investigation as politically motivated, and said their case carried “profound precedential implications” for the constitutional right to free political association.
“In a first-of-its-kind situation, a select committee of the United States Congress, dominated by one political party, has subpoenaed the personal telephone and text message records of a state chair of the rival political party relating to one of the most contentious political events in American history — the 2020 election and the Capitol riot of January 6, 2021,” they wrote.
The Wards’ application to the Supreme Court comes after a divided panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit voted 2-1 to deny the Wards’ request for an order barring their phone carrier, T-Mobile, from complying with the Jan. 6 panel’s subpoena for records spanning the run-up to the Nov. 2020 election through January 2021.
Earlier in the case, a federal judge in Arizona rejected the Wards’ request to quash the subpoena, prompting their appeal.
The Jan. 6 House committee has described the multistate attempt to put forth fake Trump electors as central to the effort to overturn Trump’s defeat, which eventually led to the riot at the Capitol.
Updated at 6:30 p.m.