Wash. Supreme Court Ponders Executive Privilege

Sep 20, 2012

Does the governor of Washington have the right to keep certain internal documents secret from the public? That question is at the heart of a case heard Thursday in the Washington Supreme Court.

This is a test case of executive privilege. That’s the concept that the governor has the right to withhold documents simply because she’s the governor. At issue are six internal documents relating to the Alaskan Way Viaduct project in Seattle, Columbia River dam operations and medical marijuana.

Deputy Solicitor General Alan Copsey says the governor should have the right to keep some communications private.

Copsey: “The reason that these documents were withheld is because they have the Governor’s handwritten notes on them.”

But attorney Michael Reitz with the conservative Freedom Foundation argues there’s nothing in Washington’s constitution or law that grants the governor executive privilege.

“If you look at the types of records that they withheld, there are talking points distributed among staff, there are memoranda from other agencies,” Reitz says.

Gregoire’s office says it’s claimed executive privilege in just two-tenths of 1 percent of document requests.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

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