For more than three decades, federal courts have grappled with the intended scope of Exemption 2 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which protects material "related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency" from mandatory public disclosure. However, in Milner v. Department of the Navy, the United States Supreme Court put an end to all conflicting postulations regarding the precise boundaries of Exemption 2 by holding that military explosive distance data does not qualify for agency withholding under the exemption. In its opinion, the Court declared that Exemption 2 encompasses records relating to employee relations and human resource issues but does not extend to more substantial internal matters whose disclosure would risk circumvention of the law. As a result of the Court's strict construction of the text of the exemption, Milner will likely have a significant impact on federal agencies that previously relied on Exemption 2 to withhold sensitive information not explicitly protected by one of the FOIA's other existing statutory exemptions.
Short, Ashley E.
"The Taming of the "2": Milner v. Department of the Navy Signals the Curtain Call on Debates Surrounding the Scope of FOIA's Exemption 2,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 63:
4, Article 13.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol63/iss4/13