Supreme Court debates Virginia's sunshine laws

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February 28, 2013


By Eric Veram

RICHMOND, Virginia: The state's Freedom of Information Act came under fire before the U.S. Supreme Court when plaintiffs labelled it as "discriminatory." The complaint was filed by two men who sought access to state records through a FOIA request but were blocked because they were non-residents. Virginia, unlike the overwhelming majority of other states, only allows access to its documents by residents and certain newspapers that circulate or television and radio stations that broadcast in the state. The plaintiffs' attorney argued that the law was unconstitutional because to violated a section intended to place citizens of all states on equal footing, and also a provision meant to prevent economic protectionism. Virginia Solicitor General E. Duncan Getchell Jr. responded to the allegations, saying that he wasn't sure whether or not state documents had economic value and that the law's purpose was "political, not commercial."[1]

A ruling had not yet been made at the time of reporting.

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