Milner v. Department of the Navy

Exemption 2 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exempts from mandatory disclosure records that are “related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(2). For many years, some courts applied this exemption to records that were not related solely to internal employment matters; they held that exemption 2 applied to “predominantly internal” records whose disclosure “would present a risk of circumvention of agency regulation.” In this Supreme Court amicus brief, filed on behalf of Public Citizen, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Washington, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the National Security Archive, and OpentheGovernment.org, we argued that these courts were misapplying exemption.

Agreeing with our position, the Supreme Court on March 7, 2011, rejected the argument that exemption 2 covers all internal rules and practices that guide employees in discharging their duties.