Friday, September 30, 2016
Byers v. U.S. Tax Court, No. 15-1605, 2016 WL 5676527 (D.D.C. Sept. 30, 2016) (Contreras, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning Tax Court's internal practices and procedures
Disposition: Granting defendant's motion to dismiss
- Procedural Requirements, Entities Subject to the FOIA: The court holds that "the Tax Court is best understood as a court, not an agency, for the purposes of FOIA." First, the court considers plaintiff's argument focusing on "the language 'courts of the United States' found in the APA" and finds that "the Court is not persuaded by [plaintiff's] argument that the term 'courts of the United States' includes only the Judicial Branch, and nothing more." Second, "the Court finds that, although [the court in a case involving "a constitutional challenge to the structure of the Tax Court"] held that the Tax Court is a part of the Executive Branch for the purposes of a separation-of-powers analysis, that conclusion is not dispositive here." Third, the court finds that "the characteristics of the Tax Court, including its authorizing statute, interpretation by the Supreme Court, and the functions it performs . . . weighs in favor of treating the Tax Court as a court, not an agency, for the purposes of FOIA." "[T]he Court finds that Congress's clarification that the Tax Court is 'not an agency' provides further support for the conclusion that the Tax Court should be considered a court, not an agency, for the purposes of FOIA." The court also points to a Supreme Court ruling that, "at least for the purposes of the Appointments Clause, the Tax Court is a 'Court of Law,' and thus, the Chief Judge does have the authority to appoint inferior officers." The court also agrees with the Tax court's assertion that it "'operates as a court in every respect.'"
Updated January 19, 2017