Given the magnitude of the case, and its location in the Washington courts, where a great deal of historically interesting grand juries have been impaneled, it’s hard to see how a victory here wouldn’t be a big step towards opening other historically valuable grand jury transcripts. As Bruce Craig, the historian who unsuccessfully sought Henry Dexter White’s records in the precedent-setting case, pointed out in a 1998 journal article in The Public Historian recounting his tale, there’s something bizarre about the current lock and key nature of these records. Even America’s greatest national security secrets have dates under which the law expects them to be available for public access, and administrative procedures to request that they be released.

But when it comes to grand jury documents, the National Archives is charged with keeping them in perpetuity, even though there’s no way for the public to access them, ever, without the great expense and trouble of begging for them before a federal court.

It makes one wonder: what’s the point in keeping these records if no one will ever get to see them?

Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.