Judicial Watch

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Judicial Watch
Judicial Watch Logo
Homepage www.judicialwatch.org

Judicial Watch is a politically conservative, government watchdog group.[1][2] According to its mission statement, it "advocates high standards of ethics and morality in America's public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people."[3]


Founded by conservative attorney Larry Klayman in 1994,[4] Judicial Watch came to public attention after filing 18 lawsuits against the administration of Democratic U.S. President Bill Clinton and figures in the Clinton administration. The organization received considerable financial support from prominent Clinton critics, including $7.74 million from conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife.[5] This led Clinton administration officials to accuse Judicial Watch of "abusing the judicial system for partisan ends."[6] According to Judicial Watch, Clinton and top Congressional Democrats encouraged the IRS to audit them and say that an IRS agent asked them, "What do you expect when you sue the President?"[7]

Judicial Watch's consistent investigations against Democratic figures have led to accusations that the group's lawsuits are focused on being politically motivated to help Republicans rather than enforce the law.[8] However, in July 2003 Judicial Watch joined the environmental organization Sierra Club in suing the George W. Bush administration for access to minutes of Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force.[9] After several years of legal wrangling, in May, 2005 an appeals court permitted the Energy Task Force's records to remain secret.[10][11]

In September 2003, Klayman left the organization to run for the United States Senate from Florida.[12] In 2006 Klayman sued Judicial Watch and its president Tom Fitton. The lawsuit charged Fitton with misrepresentation of his academic and professional credentials upon hiring, and upon assuming his position engaged in false and misleading fund raising, misuse of donor money, failure to appoint an attorney as Chairman, failure to comply with a promised severance package to Klayman, and other actions which damaged Judicial Watch, the donors and Klayman.[13][14] The majority of Klayman’s claims have been dismissed, including all claims against Fitton and the other officers of the organization.[15] The only claims by Klayman that remain pending before the Court consist of allegations that Judicial Watch breached a severance agreement with Klayman.[16]

Judicial Watch has asserted several claims against Klayman.[17] On October 14, 2009, the Court found that Klayman breached the severance agreement by failing to pay Judicial Watch, $69,358.48 in unreimbursed personal expenses. [18] The remainder of Judicial Watch’s claims against Klayman, which include additional claims of breaches of the severance agreement and trademark infringement, remain pending before the Court as of October 5, 2010.[19]

In 2006 Judicial Watch sued the Secret Service to force the release of logs detailing convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff's visits to the White House. This resulted in the release of a number of documents.[20][21]

In 2007 former donor Peter F. Paul sued Judicial Watch, accusing it of using his name to raise more than $15 million to support his lawsuit against Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton while doing little to advance his case.[22][23][24] All of Paul’s claims have been dismissed.[25]


The motto of Judicial Watch is "because no one is above the law."[3] The bulk of Judicial Watch's cases involve transparency in government and government integrity, and the organization has taken positions on a wide range of issues.[26] Judicial Watch supports:


Excerpt from fundraising letter sent to unnamed recipient (no longer living at address given).

According to David Corn, Judicial Watch uses litigation as its primary tool,[4] and its web page contains detailed information on current litigation matters.[26] Judicial Watch activities include:

  • "Digging into questions about Barack Obama's ... and his gang's efforts to steal the 2012 elections." [27]
  • Suing the town of Herndon, Virginia to stop a "day laborer" program on the grounds that it may provide employment for illegal aliens.
  • Suing the U.S. Senate to disallow the filibuster in their debates over confirmation of judicial nominees, coinciding with proposed efforts by Republican Senate leaders to internally do the same thing.
  • Criticizing the George W. Bush administration for their guest worker program, obtaining evidence of a spike in illegal immigration denied by the administration.
  • Initiating a request to the Naval Inspector General for an investigation into the "legitimacy and propriety" of the awards John Kerry received for his service in Vietnam.[28] The inspector general's office subsequently determined that Kerry's awards "were properly approved" and declined to take further action in the matter;[29] the office also responded to Judicial Watch's Freedom of Information Act request with documentation of its review.[30]
  • Criticizing the U.S. Navy for securing a public relations firm to encourage Puerto Ricans to vote to keep a Naval testing range at Vieques, Puerto Rico.
  • Investigating fund-raising activities relating to the 1996 United States campaign finance controversy.[31]
  • Rejecting the adjudicated innocence of David Rosen, who served as campaign finance director for Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign for the U.S. Senate and had been indicted for filing false reports.
  • Condemning as murder the death of Terri Schiavo, who lived for 15 years in a diagnosed persistent vegetative state and whose husband wished to allow to die. Her parents wished that she be kept on life support, and were joined in their pursuits by prominent Republicans.
  • Calling for Republican Tom DeLay to step down as House Majority Leader calling his actions on Medicare "inappropriate" and "unacceptable".[32]
  • Filing a lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton for alleged fraudulent accounting practices.[33]
  • Filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Secret Service for denying Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for access to Obama White House visitor logs from January 20 to August 10, 2009.
  • Judicial Watch gained media attention when a judge in a separate lawsuit ordered the Department of Justice to release live video footage taken from relevant security cameras at The Pentagon on September 11, 2001. On May 16, 2006 the group released the videos from the two cameras on their website with hopes to "...put to rest the conspiracy theories involving American Airlines Flight 77..."[34]
  • On June 20, 2007 the group released FBI documents related to the “expeditious departure” of Saudi nationals, including members of the bin Laden family, from the United States following the 9/11 attacks. According to one of the documents, dated September 21, 2001, Osama bin Laden himself may have chartered one of the Saudi flights.[35]
  • Launched an investigation into any White House's involvement in "branding" of the University of Arizona memorial for the victims of the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, at which T-shirts bearing the slogan "Together We Thrive" were distributed. Judicial Watch demanded the university send them "any and all communications, contracts or correspondence between the University of Arizona and The White House concerning, regarding or relating to T-shirts bearing the logo 'Together We Thrive: Tucson & America,' distributed to attendees at the January 12, 2011, memorial service". The university replied that the White House had no involvement with the branding of the event, and that the slogan—which Judicial Watch described as "an obvious play on a popular Obama presidential campaign theme"[36]—was devised by a university student.[37]
  • Launched a federal lawsuit against the administration in October 2013 on behalf of Dr. Larry Kawa and his orthodontics practice, challenging the authority of the Obama administration to delay the employer mandate.[38] The case (No. 9:13-cv-80990) has been dismissed by federal district court and is under appeal in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.[39]
  • On September 23, 2014, a request by the Department of Justice to further delay the release of a Vaughn Index of its Operation Fast and Furious documents, which continue to be persistently sought by Judicial Watch, was denied by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.[40]


Between 1997 and 2002 Judicial Watch received $7,069,500 (unadjusted for inflation) in 19 grants from a handful of foundations. The bulk of this funding came from three foundations – the Sarah Scaife Foundation, The Carthage Foundation, and the John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.,[citation needed] which folded in 2005.[41] As of 2010, the Sarah Scaife Foundation was the group's largest contributor.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Breakfast Meeting: More Papers Cut and the Navy Seal Story Leaks Out". The New York Times. August 29, 2012. 
  2. ^ Crawford, Jamie (October 8, 2013). "http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2013/10/08/report-sheds-light-on-al-qaeda-linked-hijacking-plot-in-2000/?iref=allsearch". CNN. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "About Judicial Watch – Our Mission", Judicial Watch web site.
  4. ^ a b Corn, David (2004-03-29). "Klayman Watch". The Nation. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  5. ^ "Recipients by amounts granted by all Scaife foundations". Media Transparency. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  6. ^ Segal, David (1998-05-30). "Pursuing Clinton Suits Him Just Fine". Washington Post. p. A01. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  7. ^ Rush, George; Molloy, Joanna (25 August 2002). "ACE OF A GUY DEALING WITH THE GESTS IS NO 'PARTY'". The Daily News (New York). 
  8. ^ a b Stephen Lemons. "Richard Mellon Scaife's Cash Pays For Judicial Watch's Ideologically Motivated Lawsuits". Phoenix New Times. 
  9. ^ Bill Moyers Interview with Larry Klayman, Public Broadcasting Service, July 11, 2003.
  10. ^ Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Nat’l Energy Policy Dev. Group, et al., Judicial Watch web site.
  11. ^ Appeals Court Permits Energy Task Force Records to Remain Secret, Judicial Watch press release, May 10, 2005.
  12. ^ Pensacola News Journal: "Senate candidate Klayman to visit area." February 23, 2004.
  13. ^ Timothy Noah, Judicial Watch v. Judicial Watch, Slate, April 28, 2006.
  14. ^ United States District Court for the District of Columbia Civil Action No. 06-670 (Ckk); Larry Klayman, Plaintiff, V. Judicial Watch, Inc., et Al., Defendants; Memorandum Opinion, (December 3, 2007); United States District Court for the District of Columbia Civil Action No. 06-670 (Ckk); Larry Klayman, Plaintiff, V. Judicial Watch, Inc., et Al., Defendants; Memorandum Opinion, (June 25, 2009)
  15. ^ Klayman v. Judicial Watch, Inc., 628 F. Supp.2d 112, 118 (D.D.C. 2009).
  16. ^ Id.
  17. ^ Klayman, 628 F. Supp. 2d at 118.
  18. ^ Klayman v. Judicial Watch, Inc., 661 F. Supp.2d 2, 4 (D.D.C. 2009).
  19. ^ Klayman, 628 F. Supp.2d at 118.
  20. ^ The Jack Abramoff Scandal, Judicial Watch web site.
  21. ^ U.S. Secret Service Forced to Release More White House Logs Detailing Abramoff Visits, Judicial Watch website, July 7, 2007.
  22. ^ Kristen Lombardi, Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Rides Again; Hillary haters go wild over campaign finance case, Village Voice, May 17th 2005.
  23. ^ "Battling the Clintons, and each other (Judicial Watch may tie up Peter F. Paul)", The New York Times, March 15, 2005, p. B3.
  24. ^ "Former Donor To Clinton Sues Judicial Watch," Josh Gerstein, New York Sun, February 8, 2007, p.5
  25. ^ Paul v. Judicial Watch, Inc., Civil Action No. 07-00279 (RCL) (D.D.C. Feb. 2, 2009) (memorandum and order granting dismissal with prejudice).
  26. ^ a b Litigation page, Judicial Watch web site.
  27. ^ Judicial Watch direct mass mailing soliciting for contributions for "Challenge Matching Gift Fund", dated May 15, 2012
  28. ^ Letter from Tom Fitton Re: Request for Investigation, Determination and Final Disposition of Awards Granted to Lieutenant (junior grade) John Forbes Kerry, USNR Judicial Watch web site, August 18, 2004.
  29. ^ Route, R.A. (2004-09-14). "Navy response to Judicial Watch request" (PDF). Judicial Watch. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  30. ^ Route, R.A. (2004-10-04). "Naval response to FOIA request" (PDF). Judicial Watch. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  31. ^ By Blustein, Paul and Locy, Toni (1996-11-17). "To Gadfly of the Right, Clinton Administration Is Unsafe at Any Speed". Washington Post. p. A17. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  32. ^ "House Majority Leader Should Step Down Over Ethics Lapse, Says Judicial Watch" (Press release). Judicial Watch. 2004-10-06. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  33. ^ "BUSH-CHENEY WHITE HOUSE OBSTRUCTS HALLIBURTON LAWSUIT" (Press release). Judicial Watch. 2002-07-26. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  34. ^ "Judicial Watch v. Federal Bureau of Investigation (No.06-1135)". Judicial Watch. Retrieved 2015-06-08. 
  35. ^ "Judicial Watch Releases New FBI Documents: Osama bin Laden May Have Chartered Saudi Flight Out of U.S. after 9/11". Judicial Watch. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  36. ^ BigGovernment: "U of AZ Paid $60,000+ for Obama’s ‘Together We Thrive’ Tucson Event" at the Wayback Machine (archived January 27, 2011) January 24, 2011.
  37. ^ "Did the White House". @politifact. 
  38. ^ May, Caroline (1 October 2013). "Small Business Owner Sues Obama Admin". FOX News. Retrieved 8 November 2014. 
  39. ^ Hurtubise, Sarah (July 17, 2014). "Second-Highest Court Boosts Another Lawsuit Against The Employer Mandate Delay". Daily Caller. 
  40. ^ "Federal Court Denies DOJ Motion for Delay, Orders Release of Fast and Furious Documents List to Judicial Watch by October 22". Judicial Watch. 
  41. ^ John M. Miller (April 6, 2005). "Foundation’s End The last days of John M. Olin’s conservative fortune". National Review. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°53′01″N 77°00′56″W / 38.8836°N 77.0155°W / 38.8836; -77.0155