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Common Cause v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
674 F.2d 921 (D.C. Cir. 1982)


On three separate instances, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chose to close a meeting of the agency to discuss the agency’s budget proposals. The Government in the Sunshine Act (Sunshine Act) requires that all agency meetings be open to the public except under certain exceptions. Common Cause objected to the closing of the budget meetings. The NRC contended that the meetings were properly closed under Exemption 9 to the Sunshine Act, which allows an agency to close a meeting when matters whose “premature disclosure” would frustrate agency action. It also contended that meetings could be closed under Exemption 2, which concerns matters of internal personnel rules and practices, and under Exemption 6, which concerns matters the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Common Cause sought an order from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to open the budget meetings. The NRC sought permission from the district court to hold further meetings in closed session. The district court refused permission and ordered the meetings open to the public. On emergency motion for stay pending appeal, the court of appeals granted partial stay of the order, permitting certain portions of the meeting to be closed, but ordered that the NRC make transcripts of the meetings. This appeal followed.

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