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Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Secret Service, 726 F.3d 208 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 30, 2013) (Garland, C. J.)

Re: Request for visitor logs concerning visits made to the White House Complex Disposition: Affirming in part; reversing and remanding in part
  • Procedural Considerations, Entities Subject to the FOIA:  The court holds that, "[t]he judgment of the district court is reversed as to those [] records that would disclose visitors to the Office of the President," but, "is affirmed as to those that would disclose visitors to offices in the White House Complex that are covered by FOIA."  The court notes that, "[b]ecause FOIA contains no definition of 'agency records,' and because application of our standard four-part test is indeterminate, this is a difficult case."  The court notes that, "one of the factors in the four-factor control test unambiguously favors [defendant's] position, one unambiguously favors [plaintiff's] position, and two are relatively uncertain."  The court also notes that it has "suggested that 'all four factors' must be present before 'an agency has sufficient 'control' over a document to make it an 'agency record,''" but it has, "also subsequently described the test as a 'totality of the circumstances test.'"  Despite the result of the test, the court finds that, "[c]onstruing the statutory text in light of both that intent and the canon of avoiding constitutional separation-of-powers concerns, we hold that [] records that disclose the kind of information contained in such documents are not agency records within the meaning of FOIA."  Generally, the court states that, "we do not believe Congress intended that FOIA requesters be able to obtain from the gatekeepers of the White House what they are unable to obtain from its occupants."  The court "remand[s] [the case] for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."
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Updated August 6, 2014