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High court rules vs. gov’t in open records case

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the government’s broad use of an exemption in the federal Freedom of Information Act to withhold documents from the public, ruling for a Washington state resident who wants Navy maps relating to its main West Coast ammunition dump.

The justices voted 8-1 Monday to throw out an appeals court ruling that backed the Navy’s decision to withhold maps showing the extent of damage expected from an explosion at the ammunition dump near Port Townsend in western Washington.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court, said maps could not be withheld under a FOIA provision that deals with a federal agency’s “personnel rules and practices.” Justice Kagan said that part of the law concerns “issues of employee relations and human resources.”