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Virginia FOIA case making historic appearance in U.S. Supreme Court

By   /   February 19, 2013  /   No Comments

Supreme Court justices in Washington, D.C., will hear oral arguments on Wednesday over the constitutionality of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act laws.

ALEXANDRIA—The Old Dominion is taking center stage in the national fight over government transparency.

U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday will listen to oral arguments and consider whether Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act law, which doesn’t grant out-of-state residents the same access rights to state and local government documents as in-state residents, is constitutional.

Currently, Virginia is one of only a handful of states in the country in which state and local governments can deny records requests on the basis of state residency. But a California business owner and a Rhode Island man embroiled in a child-support case have challenged that law taking it all the way to the highest court in the land. And dozens of news and open government organizations around the country have rallied around their cause.

Thomas Fitton, president of Judicial Watch — a conservative national organization for government transparency backing the access expansion — said it’s about time for Virginia to alter its embarrassing out-of-state restriction, especially given the commonwealth’s roots in freedom.

“It’s completely at odds with any common sense notion of good government,” Fitton told Watchdog.org in a January interview. “The right to request records and demand accountability from your government goes back before the creation of the state. It’s a right that people have inherently.

The Fourth Circuit upheld the law as-is, while the Third Circuit voided it.

Oral arguments are open to the public and begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 20) at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

— Kathryn Watson

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Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org's Virginia Bureau. Her work has appeared in places like Drudge Report, Washington Examiner, Reason and Human Events, and she has made appearances on Fox News and NBC4. An alumna of the National Journalism Center, Katie is a member of Investigative Reporters Editors. She graduated with a journalism degree and highest honors from Biola University in L.A., where she ran the student newspaper. After college, she reported for a mid-sized newspaper in Santa Barbara, Calif. Her work has earned her "Best in Show" and two first-place awards from the Virginia Press Association.

Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau, is in no way affiliated with "The Virginia Watchdog". Any similarities between Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau and "The Virginia Watchdog" is completely coincidental and unintentional. Any inquiries into "The Virginia Watchdog" may be done through their site.

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