Earlier this year, we reported on an upcoming Supreme Court case, Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, which some in the FOIA community feared might severely restrict the public’s ability to track the flow of tax dollars into private companies.
Today, SCOTUS passed down its ruling, and it appears those fears were justified. As the Reporter’s Committee for the Freedom of the Press Adam Marshall summarized it in a Twitter thread, the ruling ignores precedent to broadly expands the definition of “confidential” under FOIA’s b(4) exemption.
So in sum, 45-year precedent on #FOIA Exemption 4 wiped out. New standard for "confidential" is whether info is "both customarily and actually treated as private by its owner and provided to the government under an assurance of privacy"— Adam A. Marshall (@a_marshall_plan) June 24, 2019
This was never an exemption 4 case. Period. But today six members of the U.S. Supreme Court used it as a vehicle to wipe out more than 40 years of established #FOIA precedent.— Jonathan Ellis (@argusjellis) June 24, 2019
Still wrapping my head around #ArgusLeader SCOTUS loss, but sounds like a downer for #FOIA & open govt.— Jie Jenny Zou (@jiejennyzou) June 24, 2019
As an enviro journo, 'confidential biz' is one of the MOST frustrating/fuzzy exemptions used to heavily redact or wholesale deny recordshttps://t.co/LiZKHRLwB0
You can read the ruling embedded below.