Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 16,400+ case briefs...

Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Abramson

United States Supreme Court
456 U.S. 615 (1982)


Howard Abramson (plaintiff) was an investigative reporter interested in whether the White Housed used the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) (defendant) to obtain damaging information about political opponents. On June 23, 1976, Abramson filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for documents relating to the transmittal from the FBI to the White House in 1969 of information concerning certain individuals who had criticized the White House. The FBI denied the requests on grounds that the information fell within the exemptions from disclosure because they were unwarranted invasions of personal privacy. After unsuccessful appeals within the FBI, Abramson filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to enjoin the FBI from withholding the records. During the pendency of the suit, the FBI provided Abramson with 84 pages of documents. Abramson then revised his request to seek only the material withheld from a single document, a memorandum from J. Edgar Hoover to John D. Ehrlichman regarding a “name check” on 11 public figures. The “name check” memorandum also contained 63 pages of summaries and attached documents of information about the individuals culled from FBI files. The district court found that the FBI had failed to show that the information was compiled for law enforcement rather than political purposes, but found for the FBI because the disclosure of the material was an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The court of appeals reversed. The FBI appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

Dissent (O’Connor, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 373,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 16,400 briefs, keyed to 223 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.

Questions & Answers

Have a question about this case?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial and ask it

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial