FOIA Advisor

Court opinion issued Jan. 17, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Dillon v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- determining that: (1) FBI failed to sufficiently address why it did not produced three known emails pertaining to investigation of Bruce Ivins, who killed himself before being indicted for anthrax attacks in 2001; and (2) in camera review was warranted for requested excerpts of FBI’s interim 2006 case report, which agency claimed was entirely exempt pursuant to deliberative process privilege.

Summaries of all published opinions issued since April 2015 are available here.

Court opinion issued Jan. 16, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Rocky Mountain Wild v. U.S. Bureau of Land Mgmt. (D. Colo., 2019) -- ruling that: (1) plaintiff’s claim concerning agency’s untimely response became moot once agency fully responded; (2) plaintiff’s claim seeking referral to Special Counsel was an invalid cause of action; and (3) plaintiff failed to establish that agency has pattern-or-practice claim of FOIA violations.

Summaries of all published opinions issued since April 2015 are available here.

FOIA News: Judge finalizes discovery plan in Clinton email suit

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Judge orders Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes to answer written Benghazi questions in Clinton email lawsuit

By Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, Jan. 15, 2019

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes must answer written questions about the State Department's response to the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, as part of an ongoing legal battle over whether Hillary Clinton sought to deliberately evade public record laws by using a private email server while secretary of state.

Read more here.

FOIA News: MuckRock on Upcoming SCOTUS FOIA Case

FOIA News (2019)Kevin SchmidtComment

Upcoming Supreme Court case could hand broadened FOIA censorship powers to corporations

By Michael Morisy, MuckRock, Jan. 15, 2019

Does your right to know which companies are receiving your tax dollars outweigh those companies’ rights to competitive secrets?

That’s the question at stake in an upcoming Supreme Court case set to be heard in April, and the result could either cement the public’s right to know or severely restrict the ability to track the flow of tax dollars into private companies.

“This could be a monumental FOIA case. It could be very good, or this could be disaster for FOIA, depending on what happens here,” said Jonathan Ellisan investigative reporter with the Argus Leader.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Interior rule comments still unavailable

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Another shutdown victim: FOIA rules debate

Michael Doyle, E&E News, Jan. 15, 2019

The partial government shutdown has muted public debate over an Interior Department proposal that would effectively impose new limits on the Freedom of Information Act.

Halfway into a public review period scheduled to end Jan. 28, Interior has logged at least 1,219 comments. That's been enough to periodically vault the department's FOIA proposals into the ranks of "trending" on the federal government's Regulations.gov website.

Read more here.

FOIA News: SCOTUS to hear FOIA case

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

How a South Dakota FOIA request landed in the U.S. Supreme Court

Jonathan Ellis, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Jan. 11, 2019

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that will decide whether the public has a right to know how much taxpayer money grocers, gas stations, big box retailers and others get by participating in the federal food stamp program.

Read more here.

See SCOTUS Blog case summary here.

FOIA News: SCOTUS grants cert in Exemption 4 FOIA Case

FOIA News (2019)Ryan MulveyComment

The Supreme Court of the United States today granted the petition for a writ of certiorari in Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media. The Argus Leader case concerns the construction and application of Exemption 4, which covers trade secrets and privilege or confidential commercial or financial information. FOIA Advisor identified the contested Eight Circuit opinion as one of its “Top federal FOIA decisions of 2018.”

The last FOIA decision issued by the Supreme Court was in Milner v. Department of the Navy, 131 S. Ct. 1259 (2011), which involved the use of Exemption 2. A few years ago, however, Justice Thomas published an interesting dissent from the denial of a petition for a writ of certiorari in New Hampshire Right to Life v. Department of Health and Human Services, 136 S. Ct. 383 (2015), in which he signaled a desire to address the “amorphous” Exemption 4 tests that had developed amongst the circuit courts and return instead to the “ordinary meaning” of the word “confidential.”

Court opinions issued Jan. 9, 2019

Court Opinions (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Democracy Forward Found. v. White House Office of Am. Innovation (D.D.C.) -- ruling that White House Office of American Innovation is not an “agency” subject to FOIA requests because it is “an entity within the White House Office which does not exercise substantial authority independent of the President.”

Grynberg v. DOJ (2nd Cir.) -- summarily affirming district court’s decision that agency properly withheld records pursuant to Exemption 3 in conjunction with Rule 6(e) of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the United States and Switzerland.

Summaries of all published opinions issued since April 2015 are available here.