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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

The Supreme Court Is Hiding Important Decisions From You

Politico: “As the Supreme Court begins to release its written opinions from its most recent term, much of the public’s attention is focused on high-profile cases on affirmative action, election law and environmental regulation. But according to Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas Law School, this narrow focus on the most headline-grabbing decisions overlooks a more troubling change in the High Court’s behavior: The justices are conducting more and more of the court’s most important business out of the public eye, through a procedural mechanism known as “the shadow docket.” Quantitatively speaking, cases arising from the shadow docket — which include everything apart from the court’s annual average of 60 to 70 signed decisions — have long made up a majority of the justices’ work. But as Vladeck documents in his new book, The Shadow Docket, published this week, the court’s use of the shadow docket changed dramatically during the Trump years, when the court’s conservative majority used a flurry of emergency orders — unsigned, unexplained and frequently released in the middle of the night — to greenlight some of the Trump administration’s most controversial policies…

…The shift in the justices’ use of the shadow docket adds line of critique in the ongoing debate over the court’s legitimacy, which has raged in recent weeks thanks to new revelations about a conservative justice’s previously undisclosed relationship with wealthy Republican donor. For Vladeck, it isn’t a coincidence that concerns about the shadow docket are arising at the same time as concerns over the court’s ethics. “They are both symptoms of an unaccountable court,” Vladeck said. “It’s emblematic of the deeper problem, which is the court’s notion that Our docket is up to us, our ethics are up to us, our decision-making is up to us.

RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index – a new era of polarisation

“The 20th World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reveals a two-fold increase in polarisation amplified by information chaos – that is, media polarisation fuelling divisions within countries, as well as polarisation between countries at the international level. The 2022 edition of the World Press Freedom Index, which assesses the state of… Continue Reading

Jane Roberts, who is married to Chief Justice John Roberts, made $10.3 million in commissions from elite law firms, whistleblower documents show

Business Insider: “Jane Sullivan Roberts, the spouse of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts made more than $10 million in commissions as a headhunter for top-tier law firms between 2007 and 2014, according to internal documents included with a whistleblower complaint. Jane Roberts was paid more than $10 million by a host of elite law… Continue Reading

The Fight for the American Public Library

Bloomberg/City Lab: ” Library boards, school boards and legislatures are becoming battlegrounds in a push to censor books. Communities are fighting back. National Library Week in the US comes amid a period of turmoil for libraries, as efforts to censor books intensify. Visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger explores the threats libraries face, their historical context and… Continue Reading

The Socio-Economic Argument for the Human Right to Internet Access

The Socio-Economic Argument for the Human Right to Internet Access, Politics Philosophy & Economics (2023). DOI: 10.1177/1470594X231167597 “People around the globe are so dependent on the internet to exercise socioeconomic human rights such as education, health care, work, and housing that online access must now be considered a basic human right, a new study… Continue Reading

It’s Their Content, You’re Just Licensing it

The New York Times: “Amid recent debates over several publishers’ removal of potentially offensive material from the work of popular 20th-century authors — including Roald Dahl, R.L. Stine and Agatha Christie — is a less discussed but no less thorny question about the method of the revisions. For some e-book owners, the changes appeared as… Continue Reading

Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire

Pro Publica: “In late June 2019, right after the U.S. Supreme Court released its final opinion of the term, Justice Clarence Thomas boarded a large private jet headed to Indonesia. He and his wife were going on vacation: nine days of island-hopping in a volcanic archipelago on a superyacht staffed by a coterie of attendants… Continue Reading

Libraries Need More Freedom to Distribute Digital Books

The Atlantic: “Last week, a district court judge in New York ruled on Hachette Book Group, Inc. v. Internet Archive, a case that is likely to shape how we read books on smartphones, tablets, and computers in the future. Although the case hinged on technical details of copyright law, the source of the conflict is… Continue Reading


LocalView is a database co-created by Soubhik Barari and Tyler Simko to advance the study of local government in the United States. “We introduce LocalView: a comprehensive dataset of over 100,000 real-time U.S. local government public meeting videos from 1,000+ localities (and counting). If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that attention,… Continue Reading

The Atlantic: “The Librarians Are Not Okay”

The Librarians Are Not Okay – “…The graduate degree for librarians is not, typically, a master of arts, but a master of science—in library and information sciences. Librarians may adore books, but they are trained in the technical and data-driven work of running libraries. Unlike a privately owned bookstore, where the stock might reflect the… Continue Reading

Key Agencies Missing from Central Freedom of Information Act Portal

Congress Required Common FOIA Website in 2016, We’re Still Waiting. National Security Archive Sunshine Week Audit Names and Shames Delinquent Agencies. Justice Department and Office of Management and Budget Must Act Decisively to Ensure Portal’s Success National Security Archive: “The public still cannot submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the CIA or other… Continue Reading

NIH Plan to Enhance Public Access to the Results of NIH-Supported Research

“Open science is a priority at NIH and across the U.S. Federal Government. Earlier this year, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) declared 2023 to be the Year of Open Science. This OSTP announcement included details on actions being taken across the Federal Government to advance national open science policy, provide… Continue Reading