Kerry’s Divorce Documents

Drudge Report — CHASE ON FOR SEALED KERRY DIVORCE DOCUMENTS

After last week’s front page headlines over ugly unsealed divorce records in the Republican Illinois senate race, media outlets now face a dilemma: What to do about Democrat presidential hopeful John Kerry’s sealed divorce records!
The race is on in political and media circles to gauge the import of Kerry’s sealed July 25, 1988 divorce from his first wife, Julia Stimson Thorne.

TRIBUNE, which successfully sued a court to gain access to Illinois Republican Jack Ryan’s divorce papers and child custody records [over the objection of both Ryan and his former wife], is considering a similar push on Kerry, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. [TRIBUNE owns WLVI-TV Channel 56 in Boston. It could use its Massachusetts connection as a jumping point to petition the court which granted Kerry a divorce, sources explain.] Other news outlets may soon follow.

The Kerry campaign late Sunday called any old divorce digging a game of political “gutter ball.” “This is a trash hunt,” said a senior Kerry source, who asked not to be named. “No, I do not have a clue what is in the papers,” explained the source. “But it is none of my business. And its none of your business, or any one’s business… You’re playing a game of gutter ball, Drudge.”
“I would argue, adamantly, the records should remain sealed. And out of the hands of John’s political enemies.”

I must agree. While Kerry is very much a public figure and has been for over thirty years, there has to be some boundary of privacy even for those who aspire to the presidency.

Unfortunately, once this game gets going, then the previous abuse becomes justification for retribution. Just as the sleazy conduct of Ted Kennedy and others during the Bork hearings in the mid-1980s set off a cycle of nasty confirmation battles that is still with us, I suspect the Ryan scandal will have similar repurcussions. Given that these things happen outside the control of the campaigns and that divorce proceedings are technically “public” records, I see no way of stopping it.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. chris says:

    Just like the Independent Counsel, liberals love to pursue these things until it comes back to bite them in the butt. Then we have to deal with all the handwringing that occurs afterwards. Whatever one thinks of Ryan, the media, in effort to see who can hit rock bottom (Godfrey Jones!) first is making itself look worse and worse in front of the American public. No one it’s consistently ranked in the bottom of respected institutions in our country.

    I really think this info about Kerry is irrelevant to the current campaign and is taking things a bit too far.

  2. Ryan Frank says:

    Hey, if we can unseal records that BOTH sides try to keep sealed in a senate race, surely we can open then in a prez race. 😛

    (This sucks, plus the fact I am deeply suspicious of accusations made during divorce procedures)

  3. Genie’s out of the bottle. There is no way for either side to put it back in now, and this is something that the judge in the Ryan case, as well as the democratic press, should have forseen.

    But if Kerry has nothing to hide, then releasing the records should be no big deal, huh?

  4. dw says:

    “But if Kerry has nothing to hide, then releasing the records should be no big deal, huh?”

    Well, it’s the principle of the thing. How would you feel if you walked into a job interview and the first question out of the interviewer’s mouth was, “Could you tell me why you chose to take the Cutlass and not the Acura when you settled the divorce with your first wife?” Or how about, “So, tell me about this theft conviction when you were 15.” Or how about just walking in the room and seeing your credit report, legal history, and reports from some PI laid out across the table. Nothing to hide? Do you need someone to prove it to you.

    Judicial records are sealed for a reason — so idiots won’t try to do anything stupid with them. We’re not hiring an NSA agent, we’re electing a president. Kerry shouldn’t have his legal affairs pried into, and I’d expect the same for Dubya if he and Laura had hit the skids.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If Kerry’s divorce records are ancient history, then what does that make his Viet Nam story? It was Gray Davis that appointed the judge Schneider, who ruled that the public right outweighed the embarrassement it might cause. Thus to show no favoritism to the RICH AND FAMOUS, he released the documents. Dems, should live by the rules they created. Next time they might think about the rules they create. Bring it on, Kerry, let’s see what you are made of especially since, you are now such great friends. Or is it that you think you are about to fall on your own sword?

  6. Anonymous says:

    If Kerry’s divorce records are ancient history, then what does that make his Viet Nam story? It was Gray Davis that appointed the judge Schneider, who ruled that the public right outweighed the embarrassement it might cause. Thus to show no favoritism to the RICH AND FAMOUS, he released the documents. Dems, should live by the rules they created. Next time they might think about the rules they create. Bring it on, Kerry, let’s see what you are made of especially since, you are now such great friends. Or is it that you think you are about to fall on your own sword?

  7. ty says:

    It is true, we aren’t hiring an NSA agent. We’re selecting the leader of the free world. Personally, I want to know if he’s a scum bag or not. A person is the same person whether they are in a court room or the Oval Office.

    Say what you mean: “As long as it’s not GW, I’ll vote for any sleeze on the ballot.”