From an editorial in The Dallas Morning News on Thursday:
Here’s an alarming new threat to the public’s right to know: More and more government agencies around the country are suing private citizens who request access to public information, in order to keep them from seeing the records.
There’s no better protection to our democracy than our ability to hold the people we elect to public office accountable for how they’re spending our tax dollars and conducting our business. These are our records, after all, and these agencies are stomping on citizens’ right to keep track of what government is doing.
Most state open records laws allow requesters to sue agencies if they’re denied records, in order to force the information’s release. The Associated Press reports that a growing number of school districts, municipalities and agencies are turning the tables, suing requesters and asking judges to rule that the information doesn’t need to be turned over, citing privacy or sensitivity concerns.
We urge our leaders throughout the country to remember that open government is the linchpin to assuring trust, that officials are representing our best interests.