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First Amendment Library:
David Ginsburg


The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) vests jurisdiction in federal district courts to enjoin an "agency from withholding agency records and to order the production of any agency records improperly withheld from the complainant." 5 U. S. C. § 552 (a) (4) (B). We hold today that even if a document requested under the FOIA is wrongfully in the possession of a party not an "agency," the agency which received the request does not "improperly withhold" those materials by its refusal to institute a retrieval action. When an agency has demonstrated that it has not "withheld" requested records in violation of the standards established by Congress, the federal courts have no authority to order the production of such records under the FOIA.