Yesterday, I attended the First Annual Freedom of Information Day
Celebration at American University's Washington College of Law (WCL) to kick off Sunshine Week
(March 16-22), which celebrates government transparency and freedom of information.
Each year Sunshine Week coincides with the birthday (March 16) of James Madison, who famously wrote in 1822:
"A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
Yesterday morning's keynote speaker was Prof. Robert Vaughn
of WCL, who is better known as the plaintiff in the 1973 D.C. Circuit case
Vaughn v. Rosen. This seminal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case set forth the right of a FOIA plaintiff to ask the court to order the government agency defendant to provide a list of the documents that are responsive to the plaintiff's FOIA request but that the government claims are exempt from disclosure, and to include the agency's specific justification for withholding each document. This list is also known as a "Vaughn Index."
As the first Ron Plesser Fellow
at CDT, I was happy to hear Prof.
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