A Constitutional Right to Public Information
22 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2019 Last revised: 15 Oct 2020
Date Written: October 19, 2019
In the wake of the 2013 United States Supreme Court decision of McBurney v. Young (569 U.S. 221), this Article calls for policymakers at the federal and state levels to ensure governmental records remain open and accessible to the public. It urges policymakers to call not only for strengthening of the Freedom of Information Act and the various state public records law, but to pursue an amendment to the United States Constitution providing a right to public information.
This Article proposes a draft of such an amendment:
The right to public information, being a necessary and vital part of democracy, shall be a fundamental right of the people. The right of the people to inspect and/or copy records of government, and to be provided notice of and attend public meetings of government, shall not unreasonably be restricted.
This Article analyzes the benefits of the amendment and concludes the enshrining of the right to public information in both the United States Constitution as well as various state constitutions will ensure greater access of public records and documents to the general public, consistent with the democratic value of open, transparent government.
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