The Supreme Court placed a new limit on the reach of FOIA requests made by news outlets in its Monday ruling in Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media.
In the matter, the Argus Leader, a South Dakota newspaper, sought to compel the disclosure of store-level data on the redemption of government benefits by filing a FOIA request with the Department of Agriculture. The newspaper sought the names and addresses of retail stores that participate in the national food-stamp program, now officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
An industry group sued on behalf of the government, seeking to keep the records confidential. The Court sided with the industry group.
The high court ruling rejected a half-century-old appeals court precedent that allowed the withholding of business records under the Freedom of Information Act only in cases where harm would result either to the business or to the government’s ability to acquire information in the future. …
Business groups had urged the high court to strike down the longstanding precedent. News organizations and open-government advocates pleaded with the justices to leave it in place.
Democratic appointee Justice Elena Kagan joined the Court’s five conservatives in the opinion. Three justices — Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor — partially dissented.