FOIA Update: Certiorari Granted

January 1, 1981
FOIA Update
Vol. II, No. 4

Certiorari Granted

The Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the case of Howard Samson Abramson v. the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Civ. Action No. 77-2206 (D.C. Cir., Oct. 24,1980). The case is expected to be heard in the fall.

The issue in the Abramson case, which is on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is whether material extracted from the FBI's records and summarized for a White House "name check" loses its protection as "investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes" under Exemption 7.

In its petition for certiorari, the Department of Justice noted that the Abramson case "presents an important question concerning the scope of protection accorded by Exemption 7 of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7), to sensitive information collected for legitimate law enforcement purposes . . ." and said further that the appeals court had construed Exemption 7 "in a mechanical fashion at odds with its purpose."

The petition further argues that Congress' purpose in passing Exemption 7(C) was "to guarantee the personal privacy of individuals who are the subject of law enforcement investigations . . . The purpose is seriously compromised if a transcription of that information into another document created for a purpose other than law enforcement automatically destroys the protection of the privacy clause of the exemption."

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