Robert Schwartz (plaintiff) requested several documents related to the investigation of Peter Schlam from Peter Rodino (defendant), the Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States House of Representatives. After Rodino refused to make the disclosure, Schwartz sued Rodino to gain access to the documents, invoking the common-law right of access to public records. Schwartz also sued the Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552. Rodino moved to dismiss the action, arguing that Congress was not bound by the common-law rule that allows citizens to access certain public records.