First Amendment Center Files First Amicus Brief in Case on Media Access to Public Records

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Several Washington news media organizations filed suit to require Washington state lawmakers to comply with public records requests. 

Last week, the First Amendment Center of the Freedom Forum Institute filed its first amicus brief in Associated Press et al. v. Washington State Legislature et al., a case before the Washington Supreme Court. The case arose when several Washington news media organizations filed suit to require Washington state lawmakers to comply with public records requests by releasing emails schedules and reports of sexual harassment. Washington state lawmakers have long argued that the state’s Public Records Act does not apply to them.  

The First Amendment Center’s amicus brief was written in support of these news media organizations and emphasizes the value to the public of the types of records they have requested (emails, calendars and schedules). The amicus brief also highlights the public policy implications of exempting the legislature from the Public Records Act and outlines how the public’s right of access to information is rooted in the First Amendment. Attorneys from the law firm of Witherspoon Kelley served as local counsel for the amicus brief.

“We’re glad we had the opportunity to file an amicus brief in this case. The underlying issue of access to information is an essential First Amendment precondition — necessary if one is to speak or write in an informed manner, or to effectively assemble or petition for change on public policy or legislation,” explained Lata Nott, executive director of the First Amendment Center.

Recently, the First Amendment Center has been expanding efforts to inform the public about its First Amendment rights. Late last year, the Center created a special platform that aggregates the most-shared content from 2018’s midterm elections. It also launched Newstrition, an interactive tool that helps users make informed decisions about what is real news and what is misinformation. A corresponding mobile app is planned for release later this year.

In January, the First Amendment Center also launched The Quad, a campus free-speech directory that identifies established groups, organizations, influencers and journalists whose primary missions and responsibilities focus on championing free speech across universities nationwide. The First Amendment Center continues to set itself apart as a leading source of information on understanding our First Amendment freedoms and how they can be protected for all.

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