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Court: Public Bodies Cannot Say FOIA Hurts Speech

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File photo of a judge's gavel. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a judge’s gavel. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s highest court says public bodies cannot use the Freedom of Information Act to justify decisions not to release records or hold open meetings.

The state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a circuit judge should not have allowed the South Carolina Association of School Administrators to argue that open records requirements harmed its members free speech rights.

Charleston-area radio personality Rocky Disabato sued the association after it denied his open records request on the basis it wasn’t subject to law. The association gets public money, and Disabato argued it should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The justices did not decide if the association is a public body and left it up to a lower court to decide. Disabato’s lawyers said Wednesday he’ll pursue that determination.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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