FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Argument preview for Exemption 4 SCOTUS case

FOIA News (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Argument preview: Justices to consider meaning of “confidential” in Freedom of Information Act

By Mark Fenster, SCOTUSblog, Apr. 15, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issues specialized debit cards to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits recipients. Although the data that USDA gathers under SNAP are not quite so rich and revealing as those collected by private credit- and debit-card issuers, they do include commercial information about the retail grocery stores at which SNAP recipients purchase their groceries. The Argus Leader newspaper (based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota) requested this data under the Freedom of Information Act to further its investigative reporting into SNAP-related fraud. Its appeal of USDA’s denial of its request landed twice in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit before reaching the Supreme Court, where the justices will hear oral argument on April 22.

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