1st Amendment News

CFAC and MAPLight sue for public access to state’s legislative database

The California First Amendment Coalition filed suit today against the Legislative Counsel’s office in Sacramento. With our co-petitioner, MAPLight.org, we are seeking a copy of California’s full legislative database–the texts of bills, amendments, votes, dates, etc.—for all legislation.

Although the public currently can access this info one bill at a time through the state’s official website, that does not allow computer-assisted analysis of the data. MAPLight’s service, for example, highlights the influence of money on the legislative process by linking campaign contributions to specific legislative actions. This will prove embarrassing to legislators.

CFAC now has three test cases pending involving access to government-controlled databases. In addition to this one, we have sued Santa Clara County for access to its real estate parcel map database (for use in digital mapping applications), and we have sued the CA State Bar for access to data about Bar applicants needed by academic researchers studying affirmative action in higher education (the data, if we get it, to be given to researchers on both sides of this controversial issue).

Here’s an AP story about the latest suit:

Here’s a copy of our petition.

Here’s our press release:

CFAC’s suit was filed in Superior Court in Sacramento. CFAC lawyer Rachel Matteo-Boehm represents both CFAC and MAPLight in the case.

-PS

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