Fall 2016 Course Schedule

Govt Inform Law & Policy (LAW-700B-001)

Meets: 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM (MW) - Warren - Room NT02

Enrolled: 13 / Limit: 22

Administrator Access


From time to time during the semester, this course will include the presentation of real-world FOIA problems by guest speakers from the openness-in-government community for analysis during class. The first such speaker, on Wednesday September 21, will be Julie Murray, counsel to the Freedom of Information Clearinghouse of Public Citizen Litigation Group. The second will be Scott Amey, General Counsel of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), on Wednesday October 19.


LAW-700B-001 Government Information Law and Policy (3 hrs.) An examination of the operation of the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act of 1974, and related laws and policies throughout the federal government -- including matters of national security, personal privacy, and law enforcement sensitivity. The class will also explore the intractable problem area of “pseudosecrecy,” in which federal agencies have since 9/11 increasingly used document safeguarding labels such as “For Official Use Only (FOUO),” “Sensitive But Unclassified Information (SBU),” and “Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)” to guard against information disclosure. There will be a mid-term exam and a take-home final exam, with the final grade split 35%/55% between them, plus 10% for class participation. Additionally, students in this class become eligible to meet their Upper-Level Writing Requirement with a separate paper in this subject area.

Textbooks and Other Materials

The textbook information on this page was provided by the instructor. Students should use this information when considering purchases from the AU Campus Store or other vendors. Students may check to determine if books are currently available for purchase online.

No materials will need to be purchased for this course (see below), and the syllabus will be handed out during the first class.

First Class Readings

For the first class, students should read the "Introduction" section of the most recent edition of the Department of Justice's "Freedom of Information Act Guide" (i.e., as updated July 24, 2013), which is available at http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/oip/legacy/2014/07/23/intro-july-19-2013.pdf, and skim-read Sections I-X of the "Department of Justice Freedom of Information Act Reference Guide," which is available at http://www.justice.gov/oip/department-justice-freedom-information-act-reference-guide.

Additional readings will consist largely of Supreme Court decisions that are readily available on WCL's Collaboration on Government Secrecy Web site (http://www.wcl.american.edu/lawandgov/cgs/).