Santa Clara County would become one of just a handful of California counties to adopt a "sunshine" law granting greater access to the inner workings of government, under a plan being introduced this week, reports Karen de Sa in the San Jose Mercury News.
It's one thing to forbid people from using street medians to solicit anything from passing motorists, says the Los Angeles Times in an editorial; it's a safety issue. But day laborers who use the sidewalks to seek work have as much right under the First Amendment to convey their appeals for support there as anyone else anwhere else in public. The full U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals should recognize that right and strike down a Redondo Beach ordinance, the paper argues.
CalAware's audits have found a surprising number of public agencies unlawfully charging more that the 10 cents per page maximum permitted by the Political Reform Act for copies of financial statements which that law requires key public officials and campaign commitees to file as public records. But one public agencyand maybe the first to do sois actually correcting that mistake by offering refunds to those subjected to this kind of overcharge.
Those who've had their requests for information turned down by a federal agency based on one or more Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemptions can now keep track of who's taking similar denials to court. Details about every new court challenge to the withholding of information by the Obama Administration are now available on a new website developed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
It's often easy to assume that the most labor-intensive First Amendment activitiespeople holding signs or clipboards and trying to persuade others within earshotare settings for settled law, with free speech doctrine's open questions now confined to all sorts of mass media and technical communications. But the right to send or seek support for a message at pavement level where the crowds are is still a legal work in progress, as recent court challenges involving the rights of gays and union members show.
Steven Aftergood, the nation's most renowned observer of federal secrecy policy and practice in general and the national security state in particular, is beginning to think that apparatus is literally out of control. And while he has been one of the soberest critics of WikiLeaks, he seems close to acknowledging that it may be an inevitable response to official powerlessness against the forces that ever-increasingly erode freedom of information.
While the matter may still go to the U.S. Supreme Court for the final word, until then the Stolen Valor Act, which criminalizes lying about being awarded military decoration, is unenforceable in California and the West as violating the First Amendment. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has let stand the ruling of a three-judge panel to that effect, incidentally providing Chief Judge Alex Kosinski, concurring, with an occasion for the exercise of his pungent and witty prose style.