OCTOBER TERM, 1996
on petition for writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit
No. 96-713. Decided February 18, 1997
Certiorari granted; 83 F. 3d 1168, reversed and remanded.
In this case, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that Exemption 6 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U. S. C. § 552(b)(6), did not forbid disclosure of a mailing list maintained by petitioner for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and sought by respondent, the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA). In reaching this conclusion, the Court of Appeals relied upon the "substantial public interest in knowing to whom the government is directing information, or as ONDA characterizes it, 'propaganda,' so that those persons may receive information from other sources that do not share the BLM's self-interest in presenting government activities in the most favorable light." 83 F. 3d 1168, 1171 (1996) (emphasis added). "There is," the Court of Appeals said, "a significant public interest in knowing with whom the government has chosen to communicate and in providing those persons with additional information . . . ." Id., at 1172 (emphasis added).
These statements, which are the sum total of the Court of Appeals' analysis of the public interest in disclosure, make clear that the court's judgment rested on a perceived public interest in "providing [persons on the BLM's mailing list] with additional information." That is inconsistent with our opinion in Department of Defense v. FLRA, 510 U. S. 487 (1994), which said that "the only relevant public interest in the FOIA balancing analysis" is "the extent to which disclo-
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