Should state FOI laws exclude out-of-state residents?

That’s the question the U.S. Supreme Court could address when it convenes next month.

The First Amendment Center reports that Rhode Island resident Mark McBurney and California resident Roger Holbert are appealing a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding Virginia’s law limiting state records requests to state residents only.

While the odds of getting a hearing before the Supreme Court are typically slim, the pair have a chance, since the ruling conflicts with a 6th Circuit decision upholding the right of all people to ask for public records, regardless of where they live.

The pair base their appeal on the Constitution’s privileges and immunities clause, which prohibits states from treating residents of other states in a discriminatory manner.

Open government groups, including the National Freedom of Information Coalition, have filed amicus briefs in support of the appeal.

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  • Mark Scarp

    I live in a state that dispensed with this matter in 1901, while it was still a territory. The Arizona Public Records Law provides that “public records and other matters” in the hands of government officials “shall be open to inspection by any person.” This includes someone from another state, another country, even, as I point out to my mass communications law students, another planet, who would have a credible argument to be entitled to see Arizona public records!


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