Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued the following statement Friday after a federal judge in Seattle blocked the federal government’s plan to expedite the sale of Seattle’s National Archives facility and ship the un-digitized records out of the region. Judge John C. Coughenour, Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, said he will issue a preliminary injunction next week in which he will rule that Ferguson’s coalition was likely to prevail in its lawsuit asserting that the federal government acted unlawfully when it moved to sell the National Archives facility and scatter the archival records thousands of miles away.
Ferguson, working with a coalition of regional tribes, community organizations, the City of Seattle and Oregon’s Attorney General, asked the court in January to enjoin, or block, the sale while the litigation continues. The coalition filed nearly 600 pages of declarations from 79 individuals.
“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. “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.”
Assistant Attorneys General Lauryn Fraas and Kristin Beneski are handling this case for Washington.