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Document Type

Note

Publication Date

3-1996

Publication Citation

48 Federal Communications Law Journal 371 (1996)

Abstract

When members of a state legislature debated and then voted on a controversial amendment to the state budget, the legislative clerk denied two reporters from a local newspaper access to a record of the roll call votes. The state supreme court upheld the denial in the face of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. This example illustrates the shortcomings of most freedom of information statutes; in most cases, the legislative branch has quietly exempted itself from disclosure requirements. Consequently, voters at both the state and federal level are not legally entitled to know how their representatives have voted.
The Author argues that the legislative exemption from FOI statutes is fundamentally unacceptable in a democratic society and should be eliminated. The Author focuses on constitutional issues and concludes that FOI statutes should be extended to the legislative branch.

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