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Students for Sensible Drug Policy v. U.S. Department of Education

Close Date: 03/27/2006
Topic(s): Government Transparency – FOIA
Status: closed
Date Of Involvement: 01/26/2006

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In this case, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), a youth-oriented non-profit that provides education on the harms caused by the war on drugs, requested from the Department of Education a state-by-state breakdown of the number of students who answered yes to the question on prior drug convictions on the federal student aid application. SSDP also requested a waiver of the fees associated with the request. The Department of Education denied the request for a fee waiver, asserting that the requested information would not contribute significantly to public understanding of the issue and claiming that, even though SSDP is a non-profit organization, it could not find that SSDP had no commercial interest in the information because "SSDP’s campaign could directly benefit those who would profit from the deregulation or legalization of drugs." Public Citizen filed suit on SSDP’s behalf in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, arguing that SSDP was entitled to the fee waiver.

In March 2006, the Department of Education agreed to waive a hefty fee and turn over the data requested by SSDP.