Leahy: The Trump administration's attack on the people's right to know
Patrick Leahy, Bennington Banner, Mar. 13, 2018
Every year, during Sunshine Week, we recommit ourselves to an essential premise of our democracy: Our government must be an open government. A government that hides from the people can never be a government of, by, and for the people. Sunshine Week is a time to reflect on this principle, and to challenge ourselves to make our democracy ever more transparent and accountable to the American people.
This principle was instilled in me at a very early age. My parents were independent printers and newspaper publishers in Vermont, making their livelihood as proud members of the free press. The vital importance of the First Amendment to our Republic is deeply ingrained in me and in my family. But freedom of the press can guarantee little without freedom of information. Without meaningful access to information, the press and the public will struggle to serve as a check against the abuses and excesses of those in power. I'm proud to point out that Vermont's press and Vermont's lawmakers revisit these issues on a regular basis.
It is with this mindset that I arrived to the United States Senate in 1974, right when the Freedom of Information Act was making major headlines. Responding to a constitutional crisis provoked by secrecy and misdeeds within the Nixon administration, Congress overwhelmingly passed a series of sweeping amendments to FOIA, giving teeth to the law. As much as any law on the books, FOIA became a guardian of our democracy.
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