[JURIST] White House lawyers argued on Monday before a federal appeals court that White House visitor logs maintained by the Secret Service are executive branch documents and thus not subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text] requests. The appeals court judges hearing the case seemed skeptical of the administration's arguments that the visitor logs should be privileged and not publicly released, but also seemed to indicate that a balance must be struck to allow the president to keep private some information about who is visiting the White House.
Public interest group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) initially sought the visitor logs to support its contention that conservative evangelicals exert an undue influence over the White House, but the White House resisted, ordering the logs submitted directly to the White House rather than to the Secret Service so that they would fall outside the scope of FOIA. In December 2007, a federal district judge ruled [opinion, PDF; order, PDF] that the White House visitor logs are public documents [press release; JURIST report] under the meaning of FOIA. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is considering an appeal of that ruling. AP has more.