Cook v. NARA, No. 13-1228, 2014 WL 3056364 (2nd Cir. July 8, 2014) (Chin, J.)
Re: Request for records of requests for archived presidential and vice-presidential materials submitted to NARA by or on behalf of former President George W. Bush and former Vice-President Richard B. Cheney
Disposition: Affirming district court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment
- Exemption 6: The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit "conclude[s] that the records are protected by Exemption 6." The court first "conclude[s] that the records [appellant] seeks are 'similar files,' as they contain detailed records containing personal information identifiable to the former officials and their representatives." "The [Supreme Court] . . . rejected the notion that only files containing 'intimate details' and 'highly personal' information . . . qualify as 'similar files.'" "The case law also makes clear that . . . a 'similar file' . . . need not be like a personnel file in the sense that it is employment-related or a medical file in the sense that it contains a record of a person's medical history or medical treatment and care." The court then holds that it is "persuaded that the former officials have more than a de minimis privacy interest in the nondisclosure of their requests for archived materials." The court explains that "[i]nformation about what archived materials the former officials requested from NARA would reveal personal details—what they were thinking, considering, and planning as they transitioned back to private life after their years of service to the country." The court notes that "[a]n individual does not lose her right to privacy merely because she once served the government in an official capacity or because she receives benefits from the government, such as secret service protection. . . ." The court then finds that the records at issue "shed little light on how NARA is carrying out its obligations." Therefore, the court "conclude[s] that the former officials' compelling privacy interests outweigh any public interest in disclosure."
- Procedural Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Obligation: The court holds that "[c]ompelling NARA to undertake the review and redaction of almost one thousand records to produce little of value would be a waste of time and resources." The court also notes that "[i]n light of the stipulations entered into by NARA and [appellant], and [appellant's] failure in opposing summary judgment to argue segregability, that issue is not properly before us." However, the court finds that "[i]n any event, segregation would produce little of value here."