Justice Department appeals judge’s ruling on 56 documents.
Invoking an emergency procedure Wednesday evening, the Justice Department appealed a judge’s order that would force the government to turn over at least 56 documents that might shed light on why mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were effectively nationalizedin August 2012.
The department argues that Court of Federal Claims judge Margaret Sweeney’s 80-page order on September 20, rejecting the government’s claims of executive privilege over those documents, engaged in “cursory” and “uncritical, rote analysis,” and rested “on a misunderstanding of the principles that govern the privileges.”
The action comes in a set of consolidated lawsuits filed by shareholders of the two Fortune 50 companies who say that the 2012 event—in which the Treasury Department and Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) dramatically altered the terms of the two firms’ federal bailouts, all but wiping out the value of their stock—amounted to a “taking” of property without just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (The bailout began in early September 2008, on the eve of the financial crisis, when FHFA, with Treasury’s approval, placed the two government sponsored enterprises into conservatorship.)