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How is the theme chosen for each year's National FOI Day?
 
Does the First Amendment guarantee a general 'right of access' to government information?
 
Who can file a FOIA request?
 
How long does it take to get information under FOIA?
 
Can I request information from my congressman through FOIA?
 
What information cannot be obtained through FOIA?
 
How do you appeal a denial of information under FOIA?
 
How can I find out more about the open records act in my state?
 
Must a federal agency produce records in an electronic format if asked to?
 
What are open-meetings laws?
 
Aren’t open-meetings laws unconstitutional? After all, don’t they infringe upon the speech of the members of governing bodies?
 
 

State courts around the nation have consistently ruled against numerous plaintiffs’ claims that open-meetings laws are unconstitutional. A few examples of such rulings include:

  • In Tennessee, the courts have held that the Open Meetings Act, by requiring that any deliberation by a governing body toward an official decision must be conducted openly, does not infringe upon the free-speech rights of members of governing bodies and does not exercise a chilling effect upon free expression. Dorrier v. Dark, 537 S.W.2d 888 (1976).

  • In Texas, a federal judge upheld the state’s open-meetings law after several city government employees challenged the law. The plaintiffs claimed that the law was unconstitutionally vague and that it violated their freedom of speech because they were barred from discussing public issues in private. U.S. District Judge Robert Junell held that the plaintiffs “failed to show that the Texas Open Meetings Act is unconstitutionally vague … in all its applications.” Jim Todd, the state’s lead attorney in this case, said Junell’s ruling “preserves the status quo. … It preserves the protections that the [Open Meetings Act] provides to the public and avoids the danger of losing those protections.” Rangra v. Brown, U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85833, 2006 WL 3327634 (W.D. Tax., 2006).

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    How do states deal with violations of open-meetings laws?
     
    Many states and municipalities are now webcasting public meetings. Can they forbid reproduction of the meeting videos by members of the public?
     
    Are city councils and similar public bodies required to have periods for public comment at meetings?
     
    How can I find out more about the open meetings act in my state?
     
    Can public officials violate state open-meetings laws by sending e-mails?
     
    Do state open-meeting laws specifically address e-mail communications?
     
    Do court transcripts fall under FOI? Can they be withheld from litigants?
     
    Are states making court records available electronically for the public?
     
    Does the public have access to documents such as water-quality, toxic-waste and bridge-safety reports?
     
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