Dramatic Rise in FOIA Lawsuits Filed by Nonprofit Advocacy Groups
(26 Jul 2017) The number of FOIA lawsuits filed by nonprofit and advocacy organizations has generally grown over the past two decades, irrespective of which political party was in office - from the George W. Bush administration, through President Obama's eight years, and continuing during Donald Trump's first months as president. Nonprofit groups representing all shades of the political spectrum have contributed to this rise, and their activity has increased regardless of changes in various administrations' FOIA policies.

In FY 2001, the first year of the Bush Administration, nonprofit/advocacy organizations filed 47 cases challenging federal agencies' FOIA practices. These cases made up one out of every seven federal FOIA suits filed that year. Ten years later the annual number of suits had grown to 100. By June 2015, this sector's 12-month running total topped 150, and in April of 2017 reached 200 for the first time. Nonprofit groups currently account for four out of every ten FOIA lawsuits now being filed.

More and more different advocacy organizations are now filing FOIA suits. However, a relatively small number of organizations account for the majority of those filed. A new online sortable directory lists each FOIA case identified by the FOIA Project that nonprofit groups have filed from October 2000 through May 18, 2017, and provides details on each case. To view, go to:

Judicial Watch, Inc. heads the list with a record 324 FOIA lawsuits. In second place with 117 separate FOIA suits, was the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its affiliates. Virtually tied for third place were Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with 77 suits and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) that had filed 76.

To read the full report which includes a listing of twenty-four nonprofit groups that have filed ten or more federal FOIA suits during this period, go to:

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