Georgia AG needs civics lesson

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens needs to go back to school, and I don’t mean law school. He needs a high school Civics 101 lesson. We can help teach him.

Olens last week asked a judge to force a college student to remove public records from his blog. University of Georgia student David Schick acquired public records legally that included names of candidates for university president. He posted the records online on his blog. Nothing wrong with that. I love the blog post about this by Region 3 Director Michael Koretzky.

But Olens says the names should not have been released, so the student must take them down. Sorry, Mr. AG, but you can’t do that. There’s something called case law (e.g., Pentagon Papers), and we in America don’t care much for prior restraint (or post restraint, for that matter).

Also, the idea that candidates for university president should be secret is silly, and unfortunately more states are incorporating this exemption into their public record laws. A shame when it involves something so important. We need to push back against efforts to make that process hidden from public view.

In any case, there is nothing legally wrong with a journalist, or any citizen, posting government records online that were legally obtained. What irritates me the most is how officials intimidate college students. How petty and small.

Here are the public records: makeolensmad. I encourage all 8,000 members of SPJ, as well as every other U.S. citizen, to post these records online, as well, and then email Olens about it.

If you have a problem with that, Mr. Olens, try to get a judge to force me to remove them. Good luck with that.

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