Supreme Court to Review Long Standing FOIA Precedent

After 45 years as precedent for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Exemption 4, National Parks & Conservation Association v. Morton (1974) may no longer determine what’s considered confidential information. The Supreme Court accepted certiorari in  Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, 889 F.3d 914 (8th Cir. 2018), cert. granted, — S. Ct. —-, 2019 WL 166877 (U.S. Jan. 11, 2019) (No. 18-481). The case examines the competitive harm test in National Parks and whether instead courts should test if information sought under FOIA is confidential or a trade secret. In the FMI case, a South Dakota newspaper submitted a FOIA request to the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeking among other information the yearly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program sales for every store in the U.S. The USDA provided all but the yearly revenue information. When the Eighth Circuit ruled in favor of the newspaper on appeal, FMI filed an appeal to stop the release of information. Learn more about the case and its implications here.