U.S. Supreme Court to hear case involving a Sioux Falls newspaper

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Sioux Falls will have its eyes on the U.S. Supreme Court next week.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear case involving a Sioux Falls newspaper. (Source: KSFY)

This is a case 8 years in the making. The Argus Leader was working on a story about food stamp abuse, and the reporter wanted information about how the federal government reimburses grocery stories for food stamp purchases.

To get that information, the reporter needed to submit a Freedom of Information Act request, but the United States Department of Agriculture denied it.

So, the newspaper fought the government in court and won, but a third-party jumped in to appeal.

The Food Marketing institute, which represents grocery stores, argued if the Argus Leader gets this data and publishes it, it would hurt grocery store competition. This is the argument the group will make before the Supreme Court on Monday.

The Food Marketing Institute did not grant us an interview but directed us to this quote on their website.

Chief Public Policy Officer and Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs for FMI, Jennifer Hatcher said, “We support FOIA and believe it is an important law that should be interpreted as written, but FOIA was not intended to open the books to a store’s confidential business information or impede the competitive landscape.”

We spoke with the lawyer representing the Argus Leader, Robert Loeb.

Loeb said, “If the press can’t succeed in making such FOIA claims and get that kind of information from the government, there’s no way they’re going to be able to expose that kind of waste and abuse.

University of Florida law professor Mark Fenster says the outcome of this case could change how information is released.

Fenster said, “What the food marketing institute is trying to do is trying to lower the standard that they would have to show, at grocery stores, and not just grocery stores that any business would have to show to protect their information that the government has collected.”

Loeb said the reporter who put in the FOIA request that started this whole thing will be here in the courtroom Monday, covering the story for the paper.

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