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Monday, May 6, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Virginia in FOIA Case

As reported previously on this blog, Virginia's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was challenged by out of state residents who claimed the law was unconstitutional because it grants Virginia citizens, but not others, access to public records.  Both the district court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the State of Virginia's favor, and plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. 
On April 29, 2013, the Supreme Court issued its decision, affirming the lower courts' rulings.  McBurney v. Young.  First, the Supreme Court held that the Virginia FOIA did not violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause which protects only fundamental privileges or immunities. The Court recognized that the distinction in FOIA was reasonable because the purpose was to provide citizens and taxpayers with the ability to monitor its own government.  The Court also noted that there is no fundamental constitutional right to obtain information under FOIA or other public records laws.  Second, the Supreme Court held that the Virginia FOIA did not violate the dormant Commerce Clause because it does not prohibit access to an interstate market nor does it impose burdensome regulations on that market.  
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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