Justice Colleen Duffy

Citing the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and Exemption 6, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) partly denied political reporter Cook’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents related to research requests made on behalf of former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney. The court granted NARA summary judgment in Cook’s lawsuit challenging its determination. The subject "special access requests" made by research representatives designated by Bush and Cheney constituted "similar files" for Exemption 6 purposes. They contained names and contact information for the researchers, who were not NARA officials. Because the researchers acted on Bush and Cheney’s behalf, the records Cook requested could be identified as applying to them. Further, disclosure would invade privacy interests that Bush, Cheney and their designees held in the documents. Those privacy interests were not outweighed by Cook’s public interest justifications that the information was sought to (1) gain insight into how the former president and vice president chose to shape the public’s opinion of their time in office, and (2) shed light on how NARA administers the PRA.