March 25, 2011
Supreme Court Upholds Willkie Victory in Bloomberg FOIA Case
Thomas H. Golden
On March 21, the United States Supreme Court refused to reconsider a lower-court ruling compelling the Federal Reserve to reveal the names of banks that borrowed money under the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs during the financial crisis. The Supreme Court’s ruling leaves in place an important appellate victory that Willkie won for Bloomberg News in 2010, when the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling that information concerning the Federal Reserve’s emergency loans is subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, and that the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve wrongfully withheld such information from Bloomberg.
Willkie argued that U.S. taxpayers need to know the terms of the Federal Reserve’s loans because the public had become an involuntary investor in the nation’s banks as the financial crisis deepened and the government began shoring up banks through emergency lending programs. The Federal Reserve countered that the loan records were exempt from disclosure because they were confidential and their release might set off a run by depositors and unsettle shareholders.
The Clearing House Association LLC, which intervened on appeal to oppose disclosure, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court, which Willkie opposed. This week, the Supreme Court denied the petition, putting an end to the two-year legal battle.
The Willkie team included partners Thomas Golden and Scott Rose, and associates Joshua Nahum, Rina Vazirani, and Jason Roth. The Am Law Litigation Daily named Mr. Golden "Litigator of the Week" for his lead role in handling the case in district court.