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SPJ joins amicus brief urging oversight of Executive Branch classifications



Sonny Albarado, SPJ President, 501-551-8811, spjsonny@gmail.com
Christine DiGangi, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-927-8000 ext. 205, cdigangi@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists has joined an amicus brief written by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in support of The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union in a Freedom of Information Act appeal. The case highlights the judiciary’s role as a check on Executive Branch classification power.

The New York Times and the ACLU seek memorandums under FOIA from the Office of Legal Counsel regarding White House-authorized lethal force against American citizens and targeted killings of suspected terrorists. The District Court in January granted the government’s motion for summary judgment, allowing the Department of Justice to withhold the memos under Exemptions 1 (national security) and 5 (attorney-client privilege and deliberative process) of FOIA.

“By making more documents secret and then asking the judiciary to dispense with any meaningful review of its classification decisions, the Executive Branch seeks a rule from this Court that is not only incompatible with the text and spirit of FOIA but that is also antithetical to our nation’s democratic principles of an informed citizenry and a transparent government,” the brief states. “These concerns call into questions not only the Executive Branch’s motivations in classifying so many documents but also threaten the fundamental legitimacy and respect for the classification system itself.”

The RCFP news release about the brief is available on its website.

As a free press and free speech advocate, SPJ initiates and joins amicus briefs to support First Amendment and open records cases. Most recently, SPJ joined a brief opposing a citizenship requirement in the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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