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Vox Hawkeye A Study in the Intellectual Call for Open Government (and How One State Heeded It)
Unformatted Document Text:  document, the First Amendment puts the burden squarely on officials to show that access would seriously compromise a clear and substantial government interest, and that no other response short of access denial would protect that interest. 24 For anyone familiar with the Supreme Court's holdings, especially in the area of equal protection law, this formulation would seemingly fall somewhere between "intermediate" and "strict" scrutiny; as such, it would put a substantial burden on any government effort to withhold information. In addition, Blasi stipulated that even if the government could make the case that the interest it was trying to protect was sufficiently grave, such a contention could still be overborne by a plaintiff who made the case that he or she had reason to believe that the information sought related to some instance of official mal- or non-feasance. 25 Beyond this, though, Blasi also argued in favor of recognizing the press as the acceptable and capable surrogate of the people, and that it should be allowed to assert whatever claims inhere to the populace under the “undeniable” right-to-know embraced by the First Amendment. On a co-linear tack based on historical research, Smith argued that the principles of the Enlightenment—which served, among other things, to corrode popular faith in the existence of benevolent sovereigns—infused and influenced the deliberations and opinions of some of the founding fathers, as well as their colleagues and peers. 26 He cited the writings of Patrick Henry as an example of the array of early patriots who cherished a broad right to know as the citizens’ first line of defense against a predatory government—a sentiment that can be seen as subsumed within the substantive guarantees of the Constitution. 27 Of course, it is one thing to make a thoughtful and spirited argument that the First Amendment implicitly entails a right-to-know/right-of-access element—and that it bestows a preferred position upon the press—but it is quite another matter to get the courts to buy into it. Thus far, few have to any serious degree. While one could list several authoritative cases—e.g. one of the prominent “prison cases” of the 24 Ibid, 608. 25 Ibid, 610. 26 Jeffery Smith, War & Press Freedom: The Problem of Prerogative Power (New York, Oxford University Press, 1999), 31. 27 Ibid, 30.

Authors: stepanek, steve.
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document, the First Amendment puts the burden squarely on officials to show that access would seriously 
compromise a clear and substantial government interest, and that no other response short of access denial 
would protect that interest.
  For anyone familiar with the Supreme Court's holdings, especially in the 
area of equal protection law, this formulation would seemingly fall somewhere between "intermediate" 
and "strict" scrutiny; as such, it would put a substantial burden on any government effort to withhold 
information.
In addition, Blasi stipulated that even if the government could make the case that the interest it 
was trying to protect was sufficiently grave, such a contention could still be overborne by a plaintiff who 
made the case that he or she had reason to believe that the information sought related to some instance of 
official mal- or non-feasance.
 Beyond this, though, Blasi also argued in favor of recognizing the press as 
the acceptable and capable surrogate of the people, and that it should be allowed to assert whatever claims 
inhere to the populace under the “undeniable” right-to-know embraced by the First Amendment.  
           On a co-linear tack based on historical research, Smith argued that the principles of the 
Enlightenment—which served, among other things, to corrode popular faith in the existence of 
benevolent sovereigns—infused and influenced the deliberations and opinions of some of the founding 
fathers, as well as their colleagues and peers.
  He cited the writings of Patrick Henry as an example of 
the array of early patriots who cherished a broad right to know as the citizens’ first line of defense against 
a predatory government—a sentiment that can be seen as subsumed within the substantive guarantees of 
the Constitution.
            Of course, it is one thing to make a thoughtful and spirited argument that the First Amendment 
implicitly entails a right-to-know/right-of-access element—and that it bestows a preferred position upon 
the press—but it is quite another matter to get the courts to buy into it.  Thus far, few have to any serious 
degree.  While one could list several authoritative cases—e.g. one of the prominent “prison cases” of the 
24
 Ibid, 608.
25
 Ibid, 610.
26
 Jeffery Smith, War & Press Freedom: The Problem of Prerogative Power (New York, Oxford University Press, 
1999), 31.
27
 Ibid, 30.


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