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A disturbing trend

Posted: July 22, 2014 7:30 p.m.
Updated: July 23, 2014 5:00 a.m.

We wrote recently of the disturbing trend in the White House of spinning every issue through press spokesmen rather than engaging in open questioning about issues of interest to Americans. A lack of transparency isn’t limited to the federal government, as the S.C. Supreme Court has recently issued two troubling rulings which limit public access in the Palmetto State.

One ruling involves autopsy reports; the high court ruled that they can be deemed medical records and thus can be kept secret. The case involved a Sumter incident in which police killed a man; they claimed he had fired first and they had merely defended themselves. But the autopsy report, which was obtained by The Item, Sumter’s newspaper, through a separate source, said the deceased man had no gunpowder residue on his hands and stated he’d been shot in the back. It begs the question: if authorities were confident proper procedures had been followed, why did they insist on not letting the autopsy results out?

Equally disturbing is a ruling by the Supreme Court that public bodies can change their agendas at the last minutes without notifying anyone. But the high court went one step further than that, saying that agendas aren’t necessary for regularly scheduled meetings. That’s akin to telling the public that citizens have no right to know what’s going to be discussed by elective and appointive bodies.

In many instances, these disagreements are seen as press battles, but of course they affect everyone. Openness in government is important, and these latest rulings by Supreme Court justices show they have little regard for letting us all know what’s going on.


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