Logourl black

Department of Justice v. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

United States Supreme Court
489 U.S. 749 (1989)


Facts

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has gathered and maintained information about the criminal records of more than 24 million persons in the United States, pursuant to various Congressional directives. These records, colloquially “rap sheets,” contain descriptive information about a person, such as date of birth, physical characteristics, as well as information about the person’s history of arrests, convictions and incarcerations. This information is a matter of public record, but not available in collected form except from the FBI. A CBS News correspondent and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (Reporters Committee) (plaintiff) requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) information about four members of the Medico family. The Pennsylvania Crime Commission had identified the family’s company as having connections to organized crime and the company was alleged to have won several defense contracts as a result of an improper relationship with a corrupt Congressperson. The FBI originally denied the FOIA requests, then provided information on three of the four persons. The Reporters Committee filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to obtain the rap sheet on the fourth person, Charles Medico. The district court found for the Department of Justice, and the District of Columbia Circuit reversed. The Department of Justice appealed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Issue

The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Concurrence (Blackmun, J.)

The concurrence section is for members only and includes a summary of the concurring judge or justice’s opinion. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Here's why 73,000 law students rely on our case briefs:

  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners not other law students.
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet.
  • 10,395 briefs - keyed to 134 casebooks.
  • Uniform format for every case brief.
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language.
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions.
  • Ability to tag case briefs in an outlining tool.
  • Top-notch customer support.
Start Your Free Trial Now