Description: Action to compel production of U.S. Department of State officials' correspondence regarding climate negotiations.
Competitive Enterprise Institute v. U.S. Department of State
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 08/10/2022 Memorandum Opinion Download Defendant's motion for summary judgment granted except as to one document. Federal Court Said State Department Properly Withheld Communications Concerning Public Engagement About Paris Agreement. In a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit pending since 2017, the federal district court for the District of Columbia found that the U.S. Department of State properly withheld 34 records regarding communications about how to engage with the public about the legal form of the Paris Agreement. The decision concerned three categories of documents: records involving interactions with the public through the media (including emails about how to respond to a reporter’s questions), records involving interactions with the public through elected representatives (including documents reflecting discussion of how to respond to questions from members of Congress), and drafts of press guidance, talking points, and other similar materials. 09/15/2020 Memorandum Opinion Download Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment denied and defendant's motion for partial summary judgment granted. Federal Court Upheld State Department’s Invocation of FOIA Exception for Legal Memorandum Supporting Paris Agreement Request. In a FOIA lawsuit brought by Competitive Enterprise Institute, a federal district court in the District of Columbia ruled that the U.S. Department of State properly withheld a legal memorandum that accompanied an “action memorandum” seeking authorization from the Secretary of State to join the Paris Agreement. The court found that the legal memorandum met the criteria for the deliberative process privilege because it was predecisional and deliberative and did not constitute the “working law” of the State Department. The court rejected CEI’s argument that because a document appearing to be the legal memorandum had been posted on the internet, the memorandum fell outside the FOIA exemption under the “public domain doctrine.” 10/03/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Competitive Enterprise Institute Sought State Department Correspondence on Climate Negotiations. Competitive Enterprise Instituted (CEI) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in the federal district court for the District of Columbia seeking to compel the U.S. Department of State to produce correspondence of two officials related to climate change, the December 2016 Paris Agreement, the “legal form” of the Paris Agreement’s provisions, the Kyoto Protocol, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The two officials were Todd Stern, the former Special Envoy for Climate Change, and Susan Biniaz, formerly the State Department’s lead climate lawyer. CEI also sought email correspondence between the two officials and people at the Natural Resources Defense Council or World Wildlife Fund.