U.S. Supreme Court limits state government access to citizens

May 1, 2013 | By | Reply More

Modern times are discouraging to those of us who believe that freely available information is the only way to run a democracy. Here’s the latest blow, as reported by Mother Jones:

On Monday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states have no constitutional obligation to honor public records requests from non-residents. Journalists, who frequently rely on freedom of information laws to expose corruption and break open stories, fear that the decision may make it harder for them to access public records.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) and 53 other media organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing:

By largely limiting public record access in Virginia to commonwealth citizens, [the law] inhibits the media from acquiring newsworthy records and stymies efforts to provide state-by-state comparisons on important topics such as public education, healthcare, and law enforcement activities,” the media organizations argued in their brief.

MuckRock, a website that files public records requests on behalf of activists, journalists is proposing this fix, offering out-of-staters seeking public records by pairing them with locals willing to co-file the requests.

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Category: Media, Secrecy

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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