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Friday, November 25, 2016

Ind. Court - "Editorial: It's not looking good for transparency"

From an editorial today in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel [ILB emphasis]:

There is not much hope for advocates of government transparency in the Pence case. Earlier this year, the Indiana Supreme Court, in a case involving emails between legislators and lobbyists, ruled that under the Indiana Constitution’s separation of powers clause the judicial system can’t second-guess what another branch of government wants to do. So the legislature can call its emails “work product” not subject to the state’s public records laws. And the soon-to-be ex-governor can probably keep his email private, too.

Too bad. The courts are abandoning their duty to act as a checks-and-balances monitor of other branches of government. The public’s right — and need — to know will suffer. Knowing the state high court has the attitude it does, look for plenty of other officials at all levels of government to start shielding their emails from prying public eyes.

Public officials always want to keep what they’re doing a secret. That’s just the nature of politics. Even when nothing nefarious is going on, it is much easier to get the job done without that pesky public always watching over their shoulders. And as we are seeing, both in Washington and Indianapolis, technological advances will keep enabling the politicians to get better and better at avoiding public scrutiny.

The No. 1 rule when it comes to politicians and the public interest should be: The harder officials try to shield their communications, the more likely it is that they contain something we really need to know and the harder we should work to see them. It’s just too bad the courts have decided to sit out the battle. We could use a friend.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 25, 2016 11:00 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts | Indiana Government