First Amendment News

Federal judges routinely grant requests to seal records, despite rules to contrary

The Recorder newspaper in San Francisco reports that federal district courts in California, in apparent violation of First Amendment standards and the courts’ own rules, routinely sign off on on parties’ joint requests to seal records without requesting, or making findings concerning, the justification for cutting off public access. When both parties’ lawyers stipulate to the sealing, and no one is present to represent the interests of the press or public in open access, overworked

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Federal Register announces Internet access to public documents

The Federal Register creates an “electronic public inspection desk” providing the public with direct online access to regulatory documents related to an array of subjects, including health, business and safety. Current postings, for example, relate to crib safety rules, airworthiness directives, and final FDIC rules on programs intended to soften the impact of the nation’s financial crisis. PRESS RELEASE Federal Register Announces Launch of New Electronic Public Inspection Desk Last update: 1:46 p.m. EST Nov.

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Prop. 8 supporter's letter to the editor prompts "vicious" reactions

A Prop. 8 proponent’s letter to the San Francisco Chronicle is met with intimidation and an “utter lack of respect for free speech,” the paper’s editorial page editor says: The ugly backlash over Proposition 8 John Diaz Sunday, November 23, 2008 A supporter of Proposition 8, fed up with what he believed was the gay community’s and “liberal media’s” refusal to accept the voters’ verdict, fired off a letter to the editor. “Please show respect

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Departing federal officials warned to leave classified documents behind

In “Secrecy News,” the Federation of American Scientists reports that outgoing federal officials have been put on notice that classified information belongs to the government, not them: Don’t Remove Gov’t Records, Departing Officials Are Told Government officials were reminded recently that as they depart from government service with the end of the current Administration, they are not permitted to take classified information with them. “Classified information is not personal property and may not be removed

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Groups craft a "roadmap" to transparency, civil liberties for Congress and the Obama administration

Twenty-five organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, offer a 20-chapter set of policy recommendations for the new Congress and the Obama administration. The document urges increased government transparency and restraint in secrecy classifications. It also addresses reforms of the State Secrets privilege, updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and limits on NSA spying. Read the announcement here.

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