Argus Leader defends request for food stamp data in front of U.S. Supreme Court
The Argus Leader newspaper is continuing its fight for food stamp data from the federal government.
Monday, the paper’s lawyer argued its case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2011, the Argus Leader wanted information about how the federal government reimburses grocery stores for food stamp purchases and filed a Freedom of Information Act request for it, which the USDA denied.
After a few lower court battles, the federal government dropped the fight. However, the Food Marketing Institute jumped in to stop the information from being released.
It argued if the newspaper gets this data and publishes it, it would hurt grocery store competition.
Argus Leader News Director Cory Myers said, “It is a little bit surreal and honestly a bit disappointing.”
He continued, “The people shouldn’t have to fight the government to the Supreme Court for access to information about how they spend their money.”
Inside the courtroom the Food Marketing Institute’s lawyer, Evan Young, put up the biggest fight to date to keep the data confidential and out of the paper’s hands.
Young said after oral arguments, “If you are told to keep something confidential, you don’t get to tell anybody whether or not there’s a harm about it.”
He argues the government should not be forced to release specific data that shows which stores people use food stamps at.
Young said, “This is a pretty easy case, at least I hope that’s what the Supreme Court thinks.”
The justices asked each side about 30 questions. Some of the questions drew laughs from observers, while others dove deep into the legal weeds.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked more questions than any other justice.
Lawyers are hoping to hear the court’s decision in June.