WASHINGTON (AP) â€” A group seeking to force the government to release photographs taken of White House lawyer Vince Foster's body after his 1993 suicide lost a Supreme Court appeal today.
The court, without comment, turned away Accuracy in Media's argument that Foster's family has no privacy interest in avoiding public release of the photos.
Accuracy in Media, a media watchdog group, contends the public has a ``substantial interest'' in the photos because they might show whether the government properly investigated Foster's death.
Foster, the deputy White House counsel, was found in a suburban Virginia park on July 20, 1993, with a gunshot wound to the head.
Four investigations â€” including one by Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr â€” have concluded that Foster committed suicide, but some conservatives have speculated that Foster may have been murdered.
Accuracy in Media invoked the federal Freedom of Information Act in asking the National Park Service to release photos taken of Foster's body at the scene of his death and during his autopsy.
The Park Service refused, citing an exemption for cases in which releasing information would create an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
Accuracy in Media sued, and a federal judge ruled for the government. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld that ruling last October, saying, ``AIM cannot deny the powerful sense of invasion bound to be aroused in close survivors by wanton publication of gruesome details of death by violence.''
In the appeal acted on today, Accuracy in Media's lawyers said Foster's relatives have no privacy interest in the photos because they are not depicted in them.
Even if the family did have a privacy interest, it would be outweighed by the public interest in finding out whether the government properly investigated Foster's death, the appeal said.
Accuracy in Media was represented by attorney Larry Klayman, whose Judicial Watch group has filed numerous lawsuits against the Clinton administration.
The case is Accuracy in Media vs. National Park Service, 99-1578.
On the Net: For the appeals court ruling: http://www.uscourts.gov./links.html and click on District of Columbia Circuit.