N.H. Right to Life v. U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., No. 14-1011 (1st Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (“Department”) directly awarded federal grant funds to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (“Planned Parenthood”). New Hampshire Right to Life filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) seeking documents related to the Department’s decision to award the federal grant to Planned Parenthood. The Department released more than 2,500 pages of documents but withheld documents, citing FOIA exemptions for confidential commercial information and inter- or intra-agency memoranda. The district court concluded that the “vast majority” of documents were properly withheld under FOIA exemptions 4 and 5. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s rulings, holding that the Department met its burden to show that exemption 4 applied to Planned Parenthood’s submitted documents and that exemption 5 applied to the Department’s withheld internal documents.