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Case Name Arab American Institute v. Office of Management and Budget PB-DC-0011
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-00871-ABJ ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Trump Administration FOIA cases
Case Summary
On April 13, 2018, the Arab American Institute (“AAI”) sued the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. AAI alleged that OMB violated FOIA by failing to disclose ... read more >
On April 13, 2018, the Arab American Institute (“AAI”) sued the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. AAI alleged that OMB violated FOIA by failing to disclose requested records pertaining to OMB’s decision not to include a combined race and ethnicity question or a Middle Eastern or North African (MENA) category on the 2020 Census. AAI asked the court to declare that OMB violated FOIA and to issue an injunction ordering the agency to release the requested records. This case was assigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

One month later, on May 18, 2018, the court ordered OMB to file a dispositive motion or a status report setting a schedule for OMB’s production of documents to AAI. OMB chose the latter, filing its first status report on June 15, 2018. Over the next two years, the parties filed several joint status reports detailing which documents OMB had disclosed to AAI and which documents were still outstanding or disputed. By May 13, 2020, OMB had reviewed approximately 2,000 potentially responsive documents, producing “a number” of them to AAI and withholding 161 of them, claiming they were FOIA exempt. AAI objected to the withholding of five of the allegedly exempt documents.

OMB filed a motion for summary judgment on February 10, 2020, arguing that the five disputed documents were exempt under FOIA Exemption 5, which allows agencies to withhold “inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters that would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency,” including “predecisional and deliberative” documents that reflect internal Executive Branch deliberations. AAI filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on March 12, 2020, arguing that OMB had not provided a sufficient basis for exempting the documents and that the exemption didn’t apply because the documents were not “predecisional.” On August 13, 2020, after conducting in camera review, the court granted OMB’s motion for summary judgment and denied AAI’s cross-motion, finding that the disputed documents were predecisional and exempt from FOIA. 2020 WL 4698098.

As of December 25, 2020, AAI has not appealed the court’s decision.

Becca Rogers - 12/25/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552
Defendant(s) Office of Management and Budget
Plaintiff Description Non-profit organization that focuses on the issues and interests of Arab-Americans
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Document/information produced
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 04/13/2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  2020 Census Litigation
(The Brennan Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D.D.C.
08/13/2020
1:18-cv-00871-ABJ
PB-DC-0011-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D.D.C.
04/13/2018
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
PB-DC-0011-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
08/13/2020
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 45] (2020 WL 4698098)
PB-DC-0011-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Jackson, Amy Berman (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
PB-DC-0011-0002 | PB-DC-0011-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bailen, Mark I. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-DC-0011-0001 | PB-DC-0011-9000
Holmes, Lindsay Patricia (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-DC-0011-0001 | PB-DC-0011-9000
Rochford, Allison (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-DC-0011-0001 | PB-DC-0011-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Caplen, Robert Aaron (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-DC-0011-9000
Sroka, Scott Leeson (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-DC-0011-9000

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