The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily paused enforcement of a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol for the phone records of the head of the Arizona Republican Party.
The emergency request from state party chair Kelli Ward follows a decision from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit last week that sided with the panel on the subpoena.
The committee sent T-Mobile a subpoena for Ward’s phone records in January, which Ward and her husband challenged and have fought through the courts for the last nine months.
Ward argued in the request that the 9th Circuit panel should have at least halted enforcement of the subpoena as her appeal worked through the court system. She asked the Supreme Court to pause the lower court order so T-Mobile does not produce the records to the committee while she is fighting the subpoena.
“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,” the request said.
Justice Elena Kagan issued an administrative order later Wednesday that paused the subpoena for now as the Supreme Court considers her request. Kagan also set a Friday deadline for the House select committee to respond to Ward’s request.
Ward said the committee’s subpoena would give congressional investigators in-depth information about her political associations and chill her First Amendment rights.
However, two members of the 9th Circuit panel ruled to allow the subpoena to move forward. “The investigation, after all, is not about Ward’s politics; it is about her involvement in the events leading up to the January 6 attack, and it seeks to uncover those with whom she communicated in connection with those events,” Judges Barry Silverman and Eric Miller wrote.
A third member of the panel, Judge Sandra Ikuta, disagreed and said the panel’s subpoena would infringe Ward’s rights.
“The communications at issue here between members of a political party about an election implicate a core associational right protected by the First Amendment,” Ikuta wrote.
The House Jan. 6 committee, which has spent much of the last two years investigating the attack that interrupted the constitutional transfer of power, held its possible final public hearing earlier this month.
There, the panel voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump for his testimony and records about the attack as well as a broader effort to overturn the result of the 2020 election.
Ward has run twice for Senate. In 2016, she challenged Sen. John McCain in the Republican primary but lost. In 2018, she did not win a three-candidate race for the Republican nomination to replace outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake.