Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

EDITORIAL: Alabama Should Fix Open Meetings Law

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

EDITORIAL: Alabama Should Fix Open Meetings Law

Article excerpt

In a landmark press freedom case, Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White wrote that "the citizenry is the final judge of the proper conduct of public business."

Justice White was spot on, and to that end, the judgment of the citizenry is largely dependent upon the press reporting on governmental proceedings.

Unfortunately, recent -- and in our view, misguided -- Alabama Supreme Court rulings, including one that allows governing bodies to hold serial meetings, have weakened the state's open meetings law to the point of uselessness. The rulings effectively prevent the state's press -- the media, in modern parlance -- from holding public officials accountable. The people now have no way of knowing what their elected representatives are up to, except at the whim of those same officials should they deign to allow light to shine on their proceedings -- not exactly a democratic ideal. After all, the press is not some independent entity looking after its own interests. …

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