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For release 11 March 2004

For further information Contact
Meredith Fuchs, General Counsel
Thomas Blanton, Executive Director

Librarians/Archivists/Public Interest v. Vice President Cheney

National Security Archive Joins Amicus Brief in Supreme Court
Versus Government Secrecy Around Energy Task Force

Washington D.C., 11 March 2004 - The National Security Archive, together with America's leading library and archival associations and four public interest groups, filed a joint amicus brief today in the U.S. Supreme Court case brought by Vice President Richard Cheney to prevent discovery into the makeup of his controversial energy policy task force.

The Vice President argued that because the formal members of the task force were government officials, the open government law known as the Federal Advisory Committee Act did not apply, and if it did, that would violate the constitutional separation of powers. In the lower courts, plaintiffs Sierra Club and Judicial Watch won discovery orders to test that proposition, based on news reports that energy industry executives and lobbyists participated in the task force.

The amicus brief filed today, written by David Overlock Stewart, Thomas M. Susman (a board member of the National Security Archive), and Thomas W. Beimers of the law firm of Ropes & Gray, argues that the Supreme Court should "reject the government's claim that it may conduct the public's business in secret," and that the separation of powers claims made by the Vice President would effectively immunize the executive branch from judicial process such as ordinary discovery.

Joining the Archive in the brief are the American Association of Law Libraries, the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the Center for American Progress, Common Cause, People for the American Way Foundation, the Society of American Archivists, and the Special Libraries Association.

"Vice President Cheney has never been comfortable with America's open government laws," commented Thomas S. Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, "ever since his first big job in Washington, as deputy chief of staff to President Ford in 1974, when the Congress overrode President Ford's veto to enact the Freedom of Information Act as we know it today."

Click here to read the amicus brief


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