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34 Am. U. L. Rev. 1157 (1984-1985)
The Freedom of Information Act: A Fundamental Contradiction

handle is hein.journals/aulr34 and id is 1179 raw text is: THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT:
A popular Government, without popular information or the
means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or
perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; And a
people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm them-
selves with the power which knowledge gives.
_James Madison'
Although judges, legislators, and commentators frequently quote
Madison's truism to justify an implicit right to governmental infor-
mation under the first amendment,2 they also quote from it, perhaps
spuriously, for rhetorical effect.3 The recitation of what one com-
mentator has termed a classic statement, when set forth for rhe-
torical purposes, serves an apologetic function.4 Both legislators
* J.D. expected, 1986, Washington College of Law, The American University.
1. Letter fromJames Madison to W. T. Barry (Aug. 4, 1822), reprinted in THE COMPLErE
MADISON 337 (S. Padover ed. 1953).
2. See, e.g., American Main Line, Ltd. v. Gulick, 411 F.2d 696, 699 (D.C. Cir. 1969);
Wine Hobby, U.S.A., Inc. v. United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, 363 F.
Supp. 231, 233 (E.D. Pa. 1973); S. REP. No. 813, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. 2-3 (1965); Ivester, The
Constitutional Right To Know, 4 HAmNGs CONsT. L.Q 109, 131-33 (1977).
3. See, e-g., EPA v. Mink, 410 U.S. 73, 110-11 (1973) (Douglas, J., dissenting); Ray v.
Turner, 587 F.2d 1187, 1201 n.10 (D.C. Cir. 1978) (Wright, CJ., concurring); American Mail
Line, Ltd. v. Gulick, 411 F.2d 696, 699 (D.C. Cir. 1969); Arthur Andersen Inc. v. IRS, 514 F.
Supp. 1173, 1177 (D.D.C. 1981), rev'don other grounds, 679 F.2d 254 (D.C. Cir. 1982); United
States v. Williams, 65 F.R.D. 422, 451 (W.D. Mo. 1974); Wine Hobby, U.S.A., Inc. v. United
States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 363 F. Supp. 231, 233 (E.D. Pa. 1973);
Ireindler v. Department of the Navy, 363 F. Supp. 611, 613 n.10 (S.D.N.Y. 1973); S. REP. No.
813,89th Cong., Ist Sess. 2-3 (1965); 114 CoNG. REc. 13,654 (1966) (statement of Rep. Rum-
sfeld); 109 CONG. REC. 9,961 (1963) (statement of Sen. Long); see also Kutner, Freedom of Infor-
mation: Due Process of the Right to Know, 18 CATH. LAw. 50, 50 (1972); Note, The Freedom of
Information AcL A Critical Review, 38 GEO. WASH. L. REV. 150, 150 & n.1 (1969).
4. The use of Madison's quotation in the sources that are cited supra note 3, produces
an effect analogous to another well known apologetic, the noble lie of Plato's REPUBLIC. In
the proposed utopia of THE REPUBLIC, the inhabitants are to be convinced that their creator
mixed a different metal in members of each of the three social classes; gold within rulers,
silver within administrators, and iron within the farmers and craftsmen. PLATo, THE REPUBLIC
106-07 (F. Cornford trans. 3d ed. 1979). This noble lie produces a narcotic effect that
artificially makes the populace care more for their commonwealth. Id. at 107. Subtle imagery,
not direct statements, insidiously repress the inhabitants' consciousness. According to the
noble lie, each person's relegation to a given class is the result of divine will. Id. at 106. One's

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