To Avoid A Constitutional Problem, The Legislature Should Vote On Union Contracts

Please see this post on the CT Good Governance blog.


Dem’s Budget Proposes 20% Cut To Watchdog Agency

As part of an effort to close a projected $930 million hole in the fiscal year 2017 budget (which starts July 1)–a hole that represents approximately 5% of the state’s $19.9 billion annual budget–state Democrats yesterday proposed a budget that would cut the Freedom of Information Commission’s budget by nearly 20%.

Please read the full post at CT Good Governance.


Malloy Budget Restores Watchdog Independence

See this post at the CT Good Governance site.


Appropriations Committee Proposes Restoring Watchdog Independence

See this post over at CT Good Governance.


It’s “Sunshine Week”, So Listen To The Freedom Of Information Song!

Hey Friends,

It’s “Sunshine Week“–the week each year when we celebrate the importance of freedom of information and government transparency.  In honor of this auspicious occasion, take a moment out of your day to chuckle as you listen to The FOI!, a little song I wrote in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act!


Apple v. FBI

If you’re interested in learning more about the dispute between Apple and the FBI over access to encrypted iPhone information, the Electronic Information Privacy Center has a page dedicated to the case. It describes the background of the dispute and has links to the briefs, including some very insightful amicus briefs.

So many smart people have written so much on the issue that I have very little to add at this point, beyond this: The dispute is about much more than whether the government can compel Apple to provide access to a single iPhone related to a particular terrorism investigation.  It is about how our society will eventually balance compelling national security/law enforcement interests against compelling societal interests in protecting the privacy of the vast digital lives that all of us carry in our cell phones these days. But, for the moment at least, I’ll just continue link to useful resources


Political Parties And Loyalty Oaths

 

  • Secretary of State Denise Merrill is pressing for repeal of Connecticut’s longstanding “party loyalty” law, which allows party leaders to expel a person from the party if he or she displays a lack of fidelity to the party’s core principles.  She argues, with broad support, that the party loyalty law is outdated and offensive to basic democratic principles.
  • Donald Trump—a man demagogue who shows contempt for many of the platform principles that the modern Republican party holds dear —is the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Party leaders are desperately looking for a way to prevent his nomination.

Do these two situations have anything in common? I think so.  Both raise the question, “What are political parties?”  Are they private, voluntary associations of people who come together based on a shared set of beliefs and who, therefore, should be able to exclude as members persons who do not demonstrate that they adhere to the same beliefs?  Or are parties public organizations?  A mixture of both?

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The Ted Cruz Debate: An Example Of Why Interpretation Matters

The current debate over whether presidential candidate Ted Cruz is constitutionally eligible to hold the office to which he aspires demonstrates why arguments about how the federal constitution should be interpreted are so important. They are not mere semantic debates.

Article II § 1 cl. 5,  of the United States Constitution sets forth three requirements for holding the office of President: He or she must be 35 years old, must have lived in the U.S. for 14 years, and must be “a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution.” The last requirement is at the core of the Ted Cruz debate and this post.

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Kosher Marijuana?

Apparently so. Check out this interesting post over at the Volokh Conspiracy blog.


Yale Media Law Clinic Releases Paper On Access To Police Body Camera Footage

The Yale Law School Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic has announced the release of a new white paper,  “Police Body Cam Footage: Just Another Public Record,”  which advocates for public access to the footage collected by such cameras.  The white paper

[D]etails the great public interest in disclosure of the images captured by police body cameras and comprehensively demonstrates that standards already well established in state open records laws are more than sufficient to protect privacy and prevent interference with on-going criminal investigations.

By releasing the paper, the clinic is aiming to highlight an issue it believes is frequently ignored in the criminal justice reform discussion. Without public access to body camera footage, the cameras cannot serve their purpose as public oversight tools, the white paper finds. The Clinic encourages state legislatures to preserve public access to body camera footage so that the press, watchdog organizations, and individuals affected by police encounters can collectively work to ensure institutional accountability.

[Disclosure: I am a supervising attorney for the clinic.  I did not participate in the research or drafting of the white paper.]