Press/Journalists

Author Margaret Kwoka to Discuss “Saving the Freedom of Information Act”
Press Release · Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Washington, DC

On Thursday, November 18, at 5 p.m. EST, the National Archives presents a free virtual author book talk on Saving the Freedom of Information Act, featuring author Margaret Kwoka in conversation with Thomas Susman of the American Bar Association (ABA).

Register to attend (virtually). Watch the free program livestreamed on the National Archives YouTube channel.

BOOK TALK: Saving the Freedom of Information Act
Thursday, November 18, at 5 p.m., EST
 
Enacted in 1966 and taking effect on July 5, 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records, and establishes a statutory right of public access to executive branch information in the federal government. In her new book, Margaret Kwoka posits that FOIA was designed to promote oversight of governmental activities, under the notion that most users would be journalists. Today, however, most requesters are either individuals seeking their own files, businesses using FOIA as part of commercial enterprises, or others with idiosyncratic purposes like political opposition research. In this sweeping, empirical study, Kwoka documents how agencies have responded to the large volume of non-oversight requesters by creating new processes, systems, and specialists, which in turn has had a deleterious impact on journalists and the media. To address this problem, Kwoka proposes a series of structural solutions aimed at shrinking FOIA to re-center its oversight purposes. 

About Margaret Kwoka
Margaret B. Kwoka is the Lawrence Herman Professor in Law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Her research on FOIA has been published in the Yale Law Journal and Duke Law Journal, featured in the New York Times, and has received the Harry J. Kalven, Jr., Prize for Empirical Scholarship from the Law and Society Association. She has served on the federal FOIA Advisory Committee, testified before Congress in FOIA oversight hearings, and litigated FOIA cases, including a recent victory before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

About Thomas Susman
Thomas Susman serves as Strategic Advisor, Governmental Affairs and Global Programs, at the American Bar Association (ABA). He joined the ABA in 2008 after 27 years as a partner in the law firm of Ropes & Gray. Before that, he was Chief Counsel to the Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure and held other government positions. Mr. Susman’s involvement with FOIA began when, as a member of the U.S. Justice Department in 1968, he advised federal agencies regarding the new law. In his Senate position, he was the principal staff lawyer for the enactment of the 1974 FOIA Amendments. He is Founding President and a Board Member of the DC Open Government Coalition, on the Board of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, on the Steering Committee of Open The Government, and has served on many other relevant boards. 

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