In Court, He Opposes It.
Wisconsin Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen has been busy this spring defending the actions of Republican legislators to railroad through their anti-union bill.
Van Hollen's deputies rushed into court to say that the Republicans need not follow the open records law since it interferes with the legislature's right to govern its own actions.
But Van Hollen, in an August 2010 "compliance guide" on that law, said just the opposite.
Sounding like Judge Maryann Sumi herself, who has enjoined the enforcement of the law, the guide says:
"Effective citizen oversight of the workings of government is essential to our democracy and promotes confidence in it. Public access to meetings of governmental bodies is a vital aspect of this principle."
And Van Hollen's 26-page guide explicitly gives the courts the right to overturn a law that was passed in violation of the opens records law.
"A court may void any action taken at a meeting held in violation of the open meetings law if the court finds that the interest in enforcing the law outweighs any interest in maintaining the validity of the action," the guide says.
And other than in interpreting the penalties for violating the open meetings law, "the provisions of the law must be liberally construed to ensure the public's right to 'the fullest and most complete information regarding the affairs of government as is compatible with the conduct of governmental business.'"
Van Hollen is certainly not following his own guide. He is not "liberally" construing the open meetings law. He is disregarding it.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Protesting Sarah Palin and the Tea Party in Madison."
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