Editor's Note

The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Supremes Weigh in on a FOIA Case..

In case you missed it, Dan Metcalfe's Collaboration on Government Secrecy brings word that the United States Supreme Court weighed in on a rather narrow federal FOIA issue this week:

The Supreme Court issued its decision in Taylor v. Sturgell, in which it reversed the lower court's decision (written by Circuit Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit) and ruled that, as a sound general rule, courts "should not proscribe or confine successive FOIA suits [i.e., for the same records] by different requesters."

Writing for a unanimous Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rejected the D.C. Circuit's "broad theory of virtual representation," concluding that while "it is theoretically possible that several persons could coordinate to mount a series of repetitive [FOIA] lawsuits," there is insufficient "risk" of "vexatious litigation" or "abusive FOIA suits" to warrant such a harsh preclusive rule for successive lawsuits brought under the FOIA. This is the thirtieth FOIA case decided at the Supreme Court level (and, putting aside the commonality of the two jurists' names, might be the first time in which the Supreme Court has reversed a decision written by a failed nominee to the Court.)

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