The judge gave the attorney general's office until next Tuesday, Feb. 21, to comply with the order, lending urgency to the growing call for a postponement of the Senate's vote on Pruitt's confirmation, scheduled for Friday.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved Pruitt's nomination two weeks ago after Democrats boycotted the vote over concerns about Pruitt's environmental record. During his nomination hearing, Pruitt suggested senators file public records requests after declining to provide the emails as part of his hearing.
The Sierra Club accuses Pruitt of conspiring with the fossil fuel industry to attack EPA protections while he was Oklahoma's attorney general.
Carper said Democrats have no "predetermined expectations", and that they're simply looking for more information about Pruitt's time as attorney general. "We were stonewalled for a little over two years and made a decision to file suit on February 7".
However, Pruitt's press secretary Lincoln Ferguson maintained that the office had not done anything wrong.
"Thousands of Mainers - including leading scientists, doctors, lobstermen and constituents from around the state - expressed opposition and alarm to a Pruitt-led EPA", she said in a written statement. "In light of that, we are reviewing all of our options in order to ensure fairness to all requestors rather than elevating the importance of some requests over others".
Still, Mr. Pruitt's nomination isn't truly in doubt.
Among the emails CMD says it has not received is a correspondence featured prominently in a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times story.
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Pruitt was grilled over a series of letters he sent to federal agencies on state stationery that were critical of the economic effects of environmental rules, and drafted, nearly word for word, by energy lobbyists.
Collins said she would vote to bring his confirmation to the full Senate.
Susan Collins said Wednesday she will vote against Pruitt, making her the first Republican to break ranks over the nominee.
When asked whether McConnell would delay the vote in light of the judge's ruling, spokesman Don Stewart said only, "A bipartisan majority of the Senate voted today to move forward with the vote", in an email to BuzzFeed News. "We have an obligation in advising and consenting to be as fully informed as possible".