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I love the timing: A federal court today ruled that government officials in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) cannot use private email accounts to evade public record laws.
Throughout the case, the government argued that “[d]ocuments on a nongovernmental email server are outside the possession or control of federal agencies, and thus beyond the scope of FOIA.”
Judge David Sentelle, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, disagreed with that reasoning and ordered the lower court to reconsider the case. “If a department head can deprive the citizens of their right to know what his department is up to by the simple expedient of maintaining his departmental emails on an account in another domain, that purpose is hardly served,” Sentelle wrote. “It would make as much sense to say that the department head could deprive requestors of hard-copy documents by leaving them in a file at his daughter’s house and then claiming that they are under her control,” he said.
This absurd rulling, which says that government officials have to follow the law, will surely be overturned. We can’t have these saints oppressed by things as evil as the law.