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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

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By: Jessica De Soto

Fresh controversy had spilled into the headlines on Monday, June 24, 2019, when the Supreme Court decided to restrict public and media access to government records on food stamps total sales in grocery stores.

The Supreme Court had inflated the federal law’s clarification on information that can be surmised as classified as possible enlightenment. Why was this information closed to the public and media or not made public upon request? What is the Supreme Court trying to hide?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 2015 report proclaimed that the dietary quality of Americans health who are recipients of the SNAP program are at risk of obesity compared to ineligible people (40% vs. 32%). Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the 6-3 agreement, which ruled that business records will be kept in secrecy by using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) protection. However, Justice Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor’s differed in opinion.

Eight years ago, a member of the USA Today Network, The Argus Leader newspaper, sought after this mystery on why the Supreme Court was exceedingly protective in keeping the retail sales data a secret. This derailed action from the court left a residue of curiosity for the public and especially the media to investigate further. Additionally, this became a massive blow to the public's right to know how tax dollars are being spent and who is benefiting from it, The Argus Leader had stated. Even in 2011, there was a stench of disloyalty in masking federal evidence from the American people.
The unlikelihood of suppressing data from the public and media for eight years on this issue had furthered entities to reconsider and examine the main question, “why?” This was the main reason Congress created FOIA in the first place. According to The Argus Leader, this system was enabled due to government spending, which included taxpayer monies to food stamp retailers. However, “Congress had acquiesced to the 1974 ruling’s standard by failing to change it during numerous reviews of FOIA since 1974,” Argus Leader stated.

Equally important, the Supreme Court had denied access to obtaining data on total food stamps sales to the public and media. This action is odd because set by law, and it should only take 20 business days, not years, to decide whether or not to grant the entity access to confidential information after filing a FOIA request. The Freedom of Information Act should be a strategic remedy in gathering information.

However, it seems we unquestionably need to be more transparent in embracing FOIA, the ethical way to lift the veil from the eyes of our American people so that they can see the actuality of how truth is supposed to be presented. From the recent event that the Supreme Court embellished in, USA Today columnist James Bovard commented on this issue in how this is another “landmark in cloaking federal data from the American people.” In defense, the era we live in now, as Americans, especially journalists, need to stand up for our Freedom with the passion and integrity to keep exposing the truth to the masses. Why? Because our lives depend on it.

Photos By: WIX
References
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/06/24/freedom-information-act-supreme-co
urt-rules-south-dakota-case/1475089001/
https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/ops/NHANES-SNAP07-10.pdf
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