Sunshine Laws – Why?

The strength of a sunshine law (letting the light come in, so everyone can see)  depends on its exceptions. Every open-meetings act allows public bodies to close meetings or portions of meetings in some circumstances. School boards, for example, typically can close meetings to discuss student disciplinary cases. Most public bodies also can close meetings to discuss pending litigation, the acquisition of real estate, collective bargaining and individual personnel issues. Minutes from these closed sessions, however, generally must be kept and made public if and when the matter discussed is no longer confidential.

Courts across the country have held that public bodies must limit executive sessions to only those matters permitted. Under a circuit court case, Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1984), for example, federal agencies subject to the Government in Sunshine Act, 5 U.S.C. Section 552b, must attempt to segregate non-exempt portions of meetings from exempt portions and close only those portions of meetings involving exempt topics.1st Amendment Center

If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects.  Justice Brandeis (sun light