J-Groups Urge Supreme Court To Toss Va. Ban on Out-of-State FOIA Requesters

January 16, 2013

Should state freedom-of-information laws disqualify people or organizations from out of state from getting government records? Led by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, some 53 news media groups have urged the US Supreme Court to say no.

The Supreme Court in October 2012 agreed to take up the case of McBurney v. Young. The groups are challenging the residency requirement in the state of Virginia's FOI law. The US Appeals Court for the Fourth Circuit had upheld that requirement, and the groups filed a friend of the court brief appealing that decision.

The Virginia law, the groups' brief said, harms "the media’s ability to report on regionally and nationally significant stories and provide the public with complete and comprehensive information about the country as a whole."

FOI laws in Alabama, Arkansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Tennessee have residency limits similar to that in Virginia.