Carolyn Maloney v. Emily Murphy

C

United States Court of Appeals FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT Argued October 22, 2019 Decided December 29, 2020 No. 18-5305 CAROLYN MALONEY, ET AL., APPELLANTS v. EMILY W. MURPHY, ADMINISTRATOR, GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, APPELLEE Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:17-cv-02308) David C. Vladeck argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were Stephanie Glaberson, Scott L. Nelson, and Allison M. Zieve. Hashim M. Mooppan, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief were Mark R. Freeman, Scott R. McIntosh, and Jeffrey E. Sandberg, Attorneys. Before: TATEL and MILLETT, Circuit Judges, and GINSBURG, Senior Circuit Judge. 2 Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge MILLETT. Dissenting opinion filed by Senior Circuit Judge GINSBURG. MILLETT, Circuit Judge: Federal law expressly authorizes seven or more members (less than a majority) of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform to request and to receive information from government agencies as relevant to the performance of their Committee duties. See 5 U.S.C. § 2954. In 2017, the Ranking Member of the Committee and seven other members sent such a request to the General Services Administration seeking information related to property owned by the United States government. The agency refused to comply. The sole question before the court is whether the members who requested agency information under Section 2954 have standing under Article III to enforce their statutorily conferred right to information. We hold that they do. Informational injuries have long satisfied the injury requirement of Article III. A rebuffed request for information to which the requester is statutorily entitled is a concrete, particularized, and individualized personal injury, within the meaning of Article III. That traditional form of injury is quite distinct from the non-cognizable, generalized injuries claimed by legislators that are tied broadly to the law-making process and that affect all legislators equally. And nothing in Article III erects a categorical bar against legislators suing to enforce statutorily created informational rights against federal agencies, whether under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, or under Section 2954. Because the plaintiffs have standing, we reverse the district court’s dismissal of the case and remand for further proceedings. 3 I A Under Section 2954 of Title 5, committee members on the House and Senate committees dedicated to governmental oversight may request and receive information from federal agencies that pertains to those members’ committee work. Section 2954 provides in full: An Executive agency, on request of the Committee on Government Operations of the House of Representatives [now the Committee on Oversight and Reform], or of any seven members thereof, or on request of the Committee on [Homeland Security and] Governmental Affairs of the Senate, or any five members thereof, shall submit any information requested of it relating to any matter within the jurisdiction of the committee. 5 U.S.C. § 2954. At the time of Section 2954’s passage, the relevant House committee had 21 …

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