Supreme Court considers Va. limits on access to public records

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court's justices suggested Wednesday that state laws limiting access to government records to their own state residents might be pointless, but the justices seemed not to be persuaded that the laws are also unconstitutional.

Lawyers for two men who had sought government records from Virginia – joined by a broad group of media organizations and professional data miners – asked the court Wednesday to invalidate those restrictions, arguing that they discriminated against out-of-state residents in ways that violated two separate constitutional limits.

Nearly all of the justices appeared skeptical of that position. During an hour of oral arguments, they peppered the lawyer for the two men challenging the law with questions about what states could reserve for their own residents. Deer hunting? Voting?

"Virginia doesn't allow people from out of state to vote. They're not part of Virginia's political community," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said.

Virginia — like every other state and the federal government — has a law that gives people the right to inspect some government records through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Those laws are widely used by journalists, researchers and a growing industry that mines data from government records that are then used to do everything from selling real estate to setting credit scores. At least seven states restrict that right to residents of the state.

But the justices wondered Wednesday why they go to the trouble.

Also see this from the HuffingtonPost.

For more background, see NFOIC's joining in an amicus brief regarding this case.