Oral argument: Dec. 1, 2010
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Aug. 5, 2009)
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, HIGH 2 EXEMPTION, AGENCIES
Glen Milner filed a request with the Department of the Navy under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, to gain access to files describing the blast radius of Navy-managed munitions stored on Indian Island in Washington state. The Navy refused, claiming the requested documents were exempt from disclosure under Exemption 2 of the Freedom of Information Act, which exempts records that are "related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency." Some courts have interpreted Exemption 2 to cover two types of information: (i) "Low 2" information, which consists of relatively trivial internal matters and (ii) "High 2" information, which is considered more substantial and the disclosure of which would "risk circumvention of a legal requirement." The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the requested information was exempt from disclosure under the High 2 interpretation of Exemption 2. Milner argues that the High 2 Exemption is not supported by the plain text of the statute or its legislative history, and that the Navy must disclose the information. In contrast, the Navy argues that High 2 correctly expresses Congress's intentions in creating Exemption 2. This decision will determine the scope of agency disclosure in response to the public requests for information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.