Constitutionalizing Access


State constitutions receive relatively little academic attention, yet they are the source of significant substantive rights—and, when compared to the U.S. Constitution, they are relatively easily amended to comport with contemporary needs and values. Unlike the constitutions of dozens of other nations, the U.S. Constitution contains no explicit recognition of a right to information from the government, and the Supreme Court has declined to infer that such a right exists, apart from narrow exceptions. Conversely, seven states expressly memorialize the public’s right of access to government meetings and records in their constitutions. In this paper, the authors examine case law applying the constitutional right of access, concluding that the right is somewhat underutilized and rarely seems to produce an outcome clearly different from what a litigant could expect relying on state statutory rights alone.