Washington, D.C. (June 24, 2019) – Cause of Action Institute (CoA Institute) today released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision in FMI v. Argus Leader, a case considering the scope of Exemption 4 under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which will impact all FOIA requesters including news media, individuals, and government transparency groups:

James Valvo, counsel and senior policy advisor at Cause of Action Institute:

“The Supreme Court has just dramatically increased the scope of FOIA’s Exemption 4.  The Court’s cramped reading of the definition of ‘confidential’ failed to grapple with the historical and contextual meaning of that term.  Of course, we support a construction of the FOIA statute that is focused on the statute and its meaning, but, in this case, the Court reached the wrong result.  The implications of this decision will make it more difficult for the media and government-transparency groups to conduct oversight of the often-murky nexus between business and government.  Congress would do well to provide a statutory definition of ‘confidential’ and to return the application of Exemption 4 to the way it was before today’s decision.”

The Court’s full decision can be found here.

CoA Institute’s amicus brief can be found here.


Media ContactMatt Frendewey, matt.frendewey@causeofaction.org | 202-699-2018