The National Freedom of Information Coalition and 38 other organizations signed on to a Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press amicus brief urging the release of records from grand juries convened to investigate the leak of the Pentagon Papers.
Federal circuit courts have split on whether district courts can order disclosure of such records.
The amicus brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, argues the importance of releasing the materials, so the public can gain a more comprehensive understanding. The brief also argues that disclosure of the records is particularly important, given the spike in Espionage Act prosecutions against people who leak government information to the news media.
“This broad development poses a serious threat to newsgathering, an informed public, and the ability of the news media to serve its constitutional function as a check and balance on government power that is essential to the functioning of democracy,” the brief says.