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Policy Liberalism and Public Records Laws in the American States
Communication Law and Policy  (IF),  Pub Date : 2022-03-25, DOI: 10.1080/10811680.2021.2014294
Jonathan Anderson, David Pritchard, Casey Carmody


State law is often the principal determinant of case outcomes in areas of communication law such as access to information, defamation, invasion of privacy, and protection of news sources. Little is known, however, about the sources of state-to-state variation in communication law. The research presented in this article tests the hypothesis that a state’s level of policy liberalism—the extent to which state policies promote equality and protect collective goods—is positively associated with the extent to which the state’s public records law requires state and local governments to provide information upon request. The results supported the hypothesis. The topic is important because rights of access to information are a critical part of the knowledge infrastructure of democracy. The study illustrates the value of a social science approach in understanding why laws relating to communication may vary from place to place.