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Decision on Cheney Panel Postponed

July 5, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 27

A recent Supreme Court decision in the long-running litigation over public access to documents from Vice President Dick Cheney's energy panel will result in delaying final resolution until after the November presidential election. The genesis of the case goes back to the first months of the Bush Administration when Cheney held White House meetings to draw up a national energy plan. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups charged that his panel relied only on industry representatives, who met behind closed doors with government officials. The Sierra Club sued and was joined by Judicial Watch Inc., a conservative watchdog group. Both alleged that the meetings were subject to federal open-meeting and disclosure requirements. A federal district court judge ordered the government to at least provide basic information sought by the two groups during pretrial "discovery" proceedings. But the government refused; the two litigants went to a federal appeals court; and the appeals court said the Administration must provide the information or claim executive privilege, which the Administration did not wish to do. Cheney appealed to the Supreme Court, and on a 7­2 decision, the case was referred back to the appeals court with the admonishment to reconsider its decision in light of special burdens imposed on the executive branch--without requiring an executive privilege claim.


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