A couple of months ago, we reported that the Illinois Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments in the appeal by the Better Government Association (BGA) of a court decision that ruled against the BGA in a FOIA case. Specifically, the BGA had argued that the Illinois High School Association was a "public body" subject to FOIA. The circuit and appellate courts disagreed, finding that the IHSA was not subject to FOIA.
Today, the Illinois Supreme Court issued its ruling upholding these rulings, agreeing that the IHSA is not subject to FOIA. BGA v. IHSA, 2017 IL 121124. This ruling will provide helpful guidance to both public bodies and non-governmental organizations as to how the Illinois Supreme Court interprets "public body," and specifically what constitutes a "subsidiary body" and a "governmental function" under FOIA.
The Court applied the "test" set out in to earlier cases that interpreted "subsidiary body" for purposes of the Open Meetings Act. Hopf and Rockford Newspapers. That test applies multiple factors to determine the independence of the entity or organization from the governmental body. That test requires the court to look at three factors:
1. whether the entity has a legal existence independent of government resolution
2. the nature of the functions performed by the entity;
3. the extent to which the entity is publicly funded; and
4. the degree of government control exerted over the entity.
Applying these factors, the Court found that the IHSA was not a subsidiary body - in fact, it pointed out that the BGA failed to identify any particular public body to which the IHSA was subsidiary.
The Court also rejected the BGA's argument that the IHSA performed a governmental function for public bodies that would make its records subject to FOIA.
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf