United States Department of State v. Ray

PETITIONER: United States Department of State
RESPONDENT: Ray et al.
LOCATION: Mississippi Governor's Office

DOCKET NO.: 90-747
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

CITATION: 502 US 164 (1991)
ARGUED: Oct 09, 1991
DECIDED: Dec 16, 1991

ADVOCATES:
Kent L. Jones - on behalf of the Petitioner
Michael Dean Ray - on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United States Department of State v. Ray

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 09, 1991 in United States Department of State v. Ray

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - December 16, 1991 in United States Department of State v. Ray

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinions of the Court to announce in two cases.

The first of them is United States Department of State versus Michael D. Ray.

This case arises out of the respondent's Freedom of Information Act request for State Department documents containing information about Haitian nationals.

These nationals had attempted to immigrate illegally to the United States and were involuntary returned to Haiti.

Respondents particularly sought to obtain reports of interviews in which officials from the United States embassy in Haiti inquired whether the immigrants had been harassed or prosecuted by the Haitian Government after they were involuntarily returned to that country.

In response to this request, the State Department produced 25 documents but not before deleting the names and identifying information about individual returnees.

The question presented to us is whether these deletions were authorized by Freedom of Information Act's Exemption 6 which provides that the Act's disclosure requirements do not apply to personal and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

For the reasons set forth in an opinion authored by Justice Stevens, we hold that the deletions were authorized because the disclosure of the unreducted interview reports would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the Haitian returnees' privacy.

Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit is reversed.

Justice Scalia filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment which is joined by Justice Kennedy.

Justice Thomas took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.