Justice Amy Coney Barrett has authored her first Supreme Court opinion

"To encourage candor, which improves agency decision making, the privilege blunts the chilling effect that accompanies the prospect of disclosure," Barrett wrote in the opinion.
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Amy Coney Barrett on Oct. 26, 2020
Amy Coney Barrett on Oct. 26, 2020
(Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett has authored her first high court opinion, a ruling that prevented an environmentalist group from obtaining documents about internal talks at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

"The 7-2 ruling was in a case involving the Freedom of Information Act, with Justice Barrett explaining that internal deliberations remain exempt from disclosure," according to the Washington Times.

"To encourage candor, which improves agency decisionmaking, the privilege blunts the chilling effect that accompanies the prospect of disclosure," Barrett wrote in the opinion. 

She was joined by all of the justices who were nominated by Republican presidents, as well as Justice Elena Kagan who was nominated by Democratic President Barack Obama.

"They ruled against the Sierra Club, which sought documents related to the EPA's 2011 proposed design of cooling water intake structures for industrial plants, which have been accused of trapping and killing wildlife as surface water is pulled into a plant," the outlet explained. The Washington Times also reported: "The EPA consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service over the rule and design changes." 

FOIA supplies some exceptions that allow government agencies to not comply with document requests, according to the outlet, which also noted that other documents were supplied to the Sierra Club that did not have such an exemption. 

"In this case, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pointed to a privilege shielding documents produced as part of the deliberative process," according to the outlet.

Barrett wrote: "The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that federal agencies make records available to the public upon request, unless those records fall within one of nine exemptions."

Barrett, the latest addition to the nine-member high court, is one of three justices appointed by former President Trump — the other two Trump appointees include Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Barrett filled a vacancy created by the death of the long-serving Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.