The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled today that records of visitors to the White House were off limits to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Allowing public access to the information would circumvent Congress' intent to give the president discretion to keep his appointments calendar secret, the court said.
The unanimous three-judge panel, however, did affirm a federal district trial judge's finding that the public could submit requests for visitor records related to other agencies housed within the White House complex, such as the Office of Management and Budget.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, the group that sued the U.S. Secret Service for access to the records, said the ruling "punched another hole through FOIA." He said the group's lawyers were weighing whether to ask the full D.C. Circuit to hear the case or to pursue a petition in the U.S. Supreme Court.