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Court Rejects Rehearing Cheney Energy Case

September 12, 2003|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court Thursday refused to reconsider its ruling against Vice President Dick Cheney in his effort to keep secret the documents of his energy task force.

The U.S. Court of Appeals voted 5 to 3 against rehearing the case, leaving Cheney and his Justice Department lawyers with the options of either appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court or complying with a lower court order to release information about White House contacts with the energy industry.

"We're going to review it and make a determination what our next step will be," a Justice Department spokeswoman said of the ruling.

One of the groups suing for the information, Judicial Watch, said it hoped the White House would produce the sought-after list of its contacts with the energy industry while the task force was writing energy policy in 2001.

"People deserve to have all the facts, to prevent future energy problems like the recent blackout," said Larry Klayman, Judicial Watch's general counsel.

The appellate court's three-judge panel had decided in July that it would not intervene to stop the lawsuit delving into Cheney's energy contacts.

But in August, lawyers at the Justice Department asked the full appeals court to reconsider the case, arguing that it presented important separation-of-powers questions.

In its one-paragraph refusal Thursday, the appeals court gave no reasons for its decision.

Judicial Watch and the environmental group Sierra Club allege that as he drafted energy policy, Cheney consulted with industry executives and left environmentalists out of the deliberations.

Cheney's lawyers argue that the task force was composed of government officials, not corporate executives.

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