The decision “effectively gives businesses relying on taxpayer dollars the ability to decide for themselves what data the public will see about how that money is spent.”
(Maribel Wadsworth, President USA Today Network)
In a case that has been working its way through the court system for at least eight years, a majority ruling by the Court decided in favor of businesses and the government and thus says the government does not have to release to the public any information that would shine a light on possible food stamp fraud by the thousands of small stores that participate in the massive federally-funded SNAP program.
I can’t believe that I am on the same side as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the mainstream media in a case involving the Freedom of Information Act.
The Supremes led by Justice Gorsuch ruled that we, who pay for the food stamp program, have no right to know how much of our money is going to businesses that participate.
(See my posts here and at RRW about egregious food stamp fraud cases).
The Trump Administration argued for the right of businesses to keep their government funding secret.
I’m not a lawyer, but wonder if the ruling would apply to the refugee contractors and those big companies caring for ‘asylum seekers’ or any other business that lives off of taxpayer dollars! Will they now have a high court decision that would prohibit us from learning about their pipeline to the federal treasury?
From the AP at KTLA-5,
Supreme Court Sides With Businesses, Feds in Ruling Blocking Public Access to Government Info
The Supreme Court sided with businesses and the U.S. government Monday in a ruling about the public’s access to information, telling a South Dakota newspaper it can’t get the data it was seeking.
Open government and reporters groups described the ruling against the Argus Leader newspaper as a setback, but it was not clear how big its impact will ultimately be.
The paper was seeking to learn how much money goes annually to every store nationwide that participates in the government’s $65 billion-a-year food assistance program, previously known as food stamps.
Reporters at the paper, which is owned by USA Today publisher Gannett, asked the federal government in 2011 to provide information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Officials initially declined to provide all the information reporters were seeking. In response, the paper sued, arguing that the store-level data the government declined to provide is public and shows citizens how the government is spending their tax money.
The government lost in a lower court and decided not to appeal. But a supermarket trade association, the Virginia-based Food Marketing Institute, stepped in to continue the fight with the backing of the Trump administration, arguing that the information is confidential and should not be disclosed.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for a six-member majority of the court that at “least where commercial or financial information is both customarily and actually treated as private by its owner and provided to the government under an assurance of privacy,” the information should not be disclosed. He said the SNAP data qualified.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in a dissent joined by justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor that he feared “the majority’s reading will deprive the public of information for reasons no better than convenience, skittishness, or bureaucratic inertia.”
The Food Marketing Institute said in a statement that it believes the ruling will “protect private financial information today and in the future.”
Maribel Wadsworth, president of the USA Today Network, said in a statement that the decision “effectively gives businesses relying on taxpayer dollars the ability to decide for themselves what data the public will see about how that money is spent.” She called it a “step backward for openness.”
The case has to do with the Freedom of Information Act.
There is more here.
If anyone sees a response from Judicial Watch on the case, let me know. I trust them to give us a better understanding of the ramifications of the decision than I can.