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United States Department of Justice v. Tax Analysts

United States Supreme Court
492 U.S. 136 (1989)


The Tax Division (Division) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) (defendant) represents the federal government in nearly all federal civil tax cases. The Division receives copies of all opinions and orders that courts issue in such cases. The original opinions and orders are sent to DOJ’s official files, and copies are made for the Division’s staff. Tax Analysts (plaintiff) publish Tax Notes, a weekly magazine that reports on legislative, judicial, and regulatory developments in the field of federal taxation. One of the magazine’s regular features is a summary of recent federal court decisions involving tax law. Tax Analysts provides the full text of these decisions in microfiche form. The company also publishes Tax Notes Today, an electronic database of summaries and the full texts of recent federal tax decisions. Tax Analysts filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with DOJ for all of the district court tax opinions and final orders that the Division received earlier in the month. DOJ denied the request on the ground that the sought materials were not Division records. The case came before the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, J.)

Dissent (Blackmun, J.)

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