Monday, March 7, 2011

UPDATE: Supreme Court Rejects Navy's FOIA Exemption Claim in Milner

days Elena Kagan since 2010Image via WikipediaThe U.S. Supreme Court, in an 8-1 ruling, has overturned the Appeals Court decision in Milner v. Department of the Navy (Case No. 09-1163) that supported the Navy's invocation of Exemption 2 of the Freedom of Information Act [5 U.S.C. sec. 552] to avoid turning over data and maps to Puget Sound resident Glen Milner concerning a Port Townsend (Wash.) ammunition dump. The Navy argued that producing the material would endanger the security both of the munitions site and the neighboring community (See "TUOL" post 12/3/10.)

Justice Elena Kagan wrote the opinion that said the Navy wrongly relied on 5 U.S.C. sec. 552(b)(2), which shields from compelled disclosure under FOIA documents "related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency," to withhold the maps that depicted the anticipated damages an explosion at the ammo dump might cause. The maps at issue are unrelated to employee relations and human resources issues that Exemption 2 were designed to protect, Justice Kagan wrote.  Justice Breyer dissented.
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