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Supreme Court won't hear 'boobies' bracelet case; Third Circuit ruling siding with students stands

(03/10/14 6:02pm)

Pennsylvania students Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez won’t have to worry about removing their “I <3 boobies! (KEEP A BREAST)” bracelets anytime soon, as the nation’s highest court declined to hear their school district’s latest appeal to ban the accessories




Wash. Supreme Court rules state agencies can release records that detail employees’ misconduct investigations

(04/09/15 6:17pm)

In a 5-4 decision on April 2, the state's highest court reversed an appeals court’s ruling and determined such an investigation “is merely a status of their public employment, not an intimate detail of their personal lives.”







TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Don't take "no" for a public-records answer -- and don't take "copyright," either

(02/28/12 6:15pm)

On occasion, people in positions of public authority know "just enough law to be dangerous" -- not enough to actually get the answer right, but enough to convince themselves that they have, because the answer has lots of authoritative-sounding words in it. This is the story of one such occasion. Recently, the SPLC attorney hotline received what started out as an unremarkable call from a college journalist whose request to a government agency for public records was denied.


TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: This just in... lawyers have to obey the law

(01/08/13 10:09pm)

Like it or not, attorneys who work on contract for government agencies -- and, it turns out, even those whose payment flows through government agencies' insurance companies -- must let the public know what they're charging for. That's the bottom line of a new ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court that comes just a few months after courts in California and Ohio reached the same conclusion.


Supreme Court justices' papers give some hints about how Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier came to be

(01/09/13 6:25pm)

Education Week's Mark Walsh, a veteran Supreme Court reporter who deeply understands education law, is just out with a fascinating look behind the scenes at how the high court arrived at the First Amendment legal standard that governs much of the speech taking place in schools (and, increasingly, in colleges). The entire piece is well worth reading, but it's particularly enlightening for the nuggets Walsh was able to unearth from the papers of Justices Byron White, author of the majority opinion in Hazelwood School District v.




TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Wave of recent court rulings eases computer-assisted reporters' access to government databases

(07/09/13 5:13pm)

Remember that iconic scene in "All the President's Men" where hours tick by at the Library of Congress as reporters Woodward and Bernstein flip through mounting piles of index cards, each one memorializing a book requested by the White House? Chances are if Post reporters need that same information today, it's kept in an Excel spreadsheet that can be sorted, searched and alphabetized in a matter of seconds. Electronic databases are making it possible for journalists to analyze and present information that previously would have overwhelmed the limits of human patience.


TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Call them "retreats" or "briefings," but government meetings are still open to the public

(10/15/13 7:29pm)

School boards and other government bodies required to admit the public to their meetings have come up a cute, but not especially persuasive, way of doing their business behind closed doors: By not calling their meetings "meetings." When a bunch of government officials sit around a table and talk about government business, common sense, Webster's dictionary and 20-20 vision say that's a "meeting." Regrettably, some government officials who distrust the public's ability to maturely deal with information -- or who realize their behavior is so deplorable that it can't withstand public scrutiny -- will go to extraordinary lengths to argue otherwise. They'll claim to be holding a "working session" or some other euphemism that sounds less "meeting-like." That may be reassuring for their consciences, but it's rarely a legally adequate justification to shut the public out. Recently, a Rhode Island judge ordered that state's Board of Education to invite the public to an "informational retreat" where board members were scheduled to discuss high school graduation requirements and standardized testing.