October 16th, 2012
High Court to settle question on limiting state FOI laws to residents only
By Donald W. Meyers
The First Amendment Center will consider a challenge to Virginia’s law barring out-of-state residents from requesting public documents.
The federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law, calling it a reasonable restriction. That contradicted a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision striking down a similar law in Delaware. The conflicting appellate decision most likely made it easier for the justices to decide they wanted to hear the case.
The case has the potential for striking down such restrictions. Most states recognize that public means everyone, not just the people who call that particular state home.
But, there is also the risk that the high court could uphold Virginia’s law and embolden other states to impose restrictions on who can make records requests.