Hit & Run

Partial Victory for ACLU in No-Fly Suit

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Today U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer handed a partial victory to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in its suit over Freedom of Information Act requests regarding "no-fly" lists. He issued a judgment which reads, in part, that

The Court?s preliminary review of the voluminous material demonstrates that in many instances the government has not come close to meeting its burden [of explaining why it is refusing to hand over documents], and, in some instances, has made frivolous claims of exemption. The appropriate remedy is to have defendants review all of the withheld material to determine whether they believe in good faith that the material is in fact exempt and, if defendants contend it is exempt, to provide a detailed affidavit that explains why the particular material is exempt. General statements that, for example, the information is sensitive security information, are inadequate to satisfy the government?s burden. That material which is not exempt shall be promptly disclosed to plaintiffs in response to their FOIA request.

Thus, the government still has a chance to prove to the judge it doesn't have to hand over what the ACLU wants, but their first try didn't convince him. His full decision explains in great detail many of the specific reasons why. The ACLU has been e-mailing around a copy of Judge Breyer's decision, but it has not, as near as I can tell, yet been posted on the Web. I'll update later when/if I find a link for the entire ruling.

UPDATE: And here is Judge Breyer's full decision, thanks to Eugene Volokh at Volokh.com (and commenter "B," who alerted me to it).