Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his outstanding legal team have once again triumphed over bureaucratic stupidity and shortsightedness.
Today, U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour verbally signed off on a preliminary injunction to block the federal government’s scheme to surplus the land and buildings that house the National Archives’ Seattle campus on Sand Point Way, likely putting an end to the fast-moving effort to dismantle the facility.
“Today’s legal victory blocks the federal government’s unlawful plan to sell the Archives and scatter the DNA of our region thousands of miles away,” Ferguson said in a statement hailing Coughenour’s decision. (A written injunction will be issued next week directing the federal government to stop its illegal plans.)
“This victory preserves our ability to physically connect to our history by visiting the Archives and accessing the un-digitized records that are deeply personal to so many. The federal government callously ignored deep concerns raised by the decision to ship these records to California and Missouri, including issues related to racial equity, tribal relations, conservation, good government, and the rule of law. The judge just did what these federal agencies should have done – consider the facility’s importance to our region and apply the law.”
“Today a federal judge granted our motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the sale of the National Archives building in Seattle!” said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. “The sale would cause irreparable harm to Oregon’s tribes, public universities, and our communities. What a great end to the week!”
“Thank you, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, for working diligently to protect access to our regions’ history and archives,” tweeted Governor Jay Inslee.
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell also welcomed the decision.
“This injunction is good news and a victory for those who rely on the valuable local historical records stored at the Archives,” said Cantwell.
“Despite today’s victory, the fight is not over,” Cantwell noted.
“Tribes and other members of our community were not consulted, and I will continue to work with the Biden administration and my colleagues to ensure these precious records stay in the Pacific Northwest.”
We at NPI agree.
We thank Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his outstanding legal team, our tribes, U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, and Governor Jay Inslee for all of their fine work to oppose the sale of the National Archives Seattle.
Once again, the people of the State of Washington, through their well prepared legal counsel, have skillfully intervened to stop our federal government from making a bad move that would have jeopardized our region’s well being.
The National Archives’ Seattle campus is an important, irreplaceable resource for our region. We are a wealthy nation and can easily afford to build new facilities to safeguard our region’s history. The National Archives’ plan to send 800,000 cubic feet of records to Missouri and California is unacceptable.
It is important to note that records that were once housed in Alaska had already been moved to Seattle in the not so distant past. Seattle is a long plane ride from Anchorage and Juneau; moving those records again would have made them even less accessible to the people of the State of Alaska.
With President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris now in charge of our nation’s executive branch, our team at NPI hopes legal challenges like this will no longer have to be frequently brought to protect our values and interests.
NPI, which was founded in 2003, has a strong interest in data preservation.
NPI maintains its own growing digital archive of documents, original photographs, audio recordings, and video recordings documenting political history in the Pacific Northwest from 2002 until the present. The collection includes over one million items. Among the events documented in the collection are in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Democratic National Conventions, the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama, several gubernatorial inaugurations, dozens of state and county political party conventions, and the swearing-in ceremonies of trailblazing leaders in Washington State politics, like State Senator Manka Dhingra, State Representative My-Linh Thai, State Representative Debra Lekanoff, and Speaker Laurie Jinkins.