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Appeals court rules no Cheney duty to disclose energy task force documents

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Tuesday unanimously rejected [opinion, PDF text] a lawsuit brought against Vice-President Dick Cheney for refusing to disclose internal communications of the National Energy Policy Development Group [policy report], Cheney's energy task force [NRDC FOIA documents] composed of government employees. The suit, filed jointly by watchdog group Judicial Watch [advocacy website] and the Sierra Club [advocacy website] had claimed that Cheney's practice of consulting energy firms resulted in energy policies favorable to the industry. The court ruling allows Cheney to refuse to disclose the task force's confidential communications so long as nongovernmental employees do not later vote on any task force measures; the eight-member appeals noted that it was important for the President to be able to seek and receive confidential advice. Judicial Watch had appealed [appellate brief, PDF text] a previous nondisclosure ruling to the US Supreme Court, which by a 7-2 vote [opinion] last June also refused to ask Cheney to disclose the documents [JURIST report], sending the case back [JURIST report] to the Court of Appeals. Read the Sierra Club press release on Tuesday's ruling; the Sierra Club provides additional materials on the course of the litigation. Reuters has more.

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