Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Supreme Court to Review Endangered Species FOIA Case

The Supreme Court is taking up the Trump administration’s legal quest to keep certain Endangered Species Act records from the public eye. The justices agreed Monday to review a petition from two U.S. agencies trying to reverse a court order to release draft documents from a controversial species consultation process. The Freedom of Information Act case could have broad ramifications for agency disclosure in other contexts. Government lawyers warned in their petition that allowing the order to stand would undermine a FOIA exemption that allows for “candid” communication between agencies during decision-making processes. But the Sierra Club, which filed the underlying case, says FOIA doesn’t allow agencies to shield important records simply by labeling them drafts. “If an agency makes a decision that alters the course of either another agency’s decision-making or affects the public, it doesn’t get to just stamp that document ‘draft’ or ‘secret’ or ‘for our eyes only’ or anything else,” Sierra Club attorney Sanjay Narayan told Bloomberg Law. Some legal analysts predict that the court’s decision to take the case means the justices will side with the government...MORE

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