ASNE/APME Join Amicus Brief Filed in Supreme Court in FOIA Case
ASNE and APME were 2 of 37 media organizations and companies who joined an amicus brief drafted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press that was filed with the United States Supreme Court in support of the Argus (SD) Leader in a key FOIA case involving the "trade secrets" exemption (Exemption 4).
The paper is seeking access to documents relating to retailer participation in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP). It was successful in the District Court, at which point the United States Department of Agriculture stopped defending its initial denial of the FOIA request. However, the Food Marketing Institute took up the mantle of secrecy, appealing to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which also ruled in favor of the paper. It is therefore very concerning that the Supreme Court agreed to hear this case.
In addition to simply being important for purposes of accessing SNAP records, this case presents two crucial legal issues. It is the first time the Supreme Court has heard a case involving Exemption 4 of FOIA. It is also the first time the Court has heard a case since FOIA was amended in 2016 to require that agencies point to a "foreseeable harm" that might result from release of records prior to issuing a FOIA denial. The Court could set precedent with regard to one or both of these issues. That's why our amicus brief actually argues that the Court should not rule at all.
Oral argument is scheduled for April 22. You can read our amicus brief here.