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26 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1 (1957-1958)
Open Government Principle: Applying the Right to Know Under the Constitution

handle is hein.journals/gwlr26 and id is 11 raw text is: The George Washington Law Review
VOLUME 26                    OCTOBER, 1957                       NUMBER 1
THE OPEN GOVERNMENT PRINCIPLE:
APPLYING THE RIGHT TO KNOW
UNDER THE CONSTITUTION
Wallace Parks*
I. INTRODUCTION
The withholding of government information is currently a subject
of general interest and considerable controversy in the United States.
In spite of the vast volume of government publications and releases
of various types, many skilled observers of American governmental
processes have become concerned, since the end of World War 11,
because of suppression, withholding, or delayed availability of infor-
mation at its source. Both major parties in recent platforms have
promised to free government information pertaining to the national
government.
*A.B., LL.B., Ph.D.     Former member of the Maryland Bar.       The author
served as consultant to Representative William L. Dawson of Illinois, Chairman
of the Government Operations Committee of the U. S. House of Representatives, at
the beginning of the 84th Congress. When the Government Information Subcommittee
was organized on June 9, 1954, under the chairmanship of Representative John E.
Moss of California, the author then became Chief Counsel to the Subcommittee.
In March, 1955, he left the Subcommittee and, after a consulting assignment with the
Senate Constitutional Rights Subcommittee, under the chairmanship of Senator Thomas
C. Hennings, Jr., of Missouri, began a research and writing program. It is to be
regretted that Dr. Parks' untimely death in February 1957, prevented the completion
of his resedrch program, begun under the auspices of the Fund for the Republic. The
articles herein are published through the courtesy of the Fund for the Republic.
1 1956 Democratic Party Platform, printed in U. S. News & World Report 102, 114
(Aug. 24, 1956). August 24, 1956, Freedom of Information. During recent years
there has developed a practice on the part of Federal agencies to delay and withhold
information which is needed by Congress and the general public to make important
decisions dffecting their lives and destinies. We believe that this trend toward
secrecy in Government should be reversed and that the Federal Government should
return to its basic tradition of exchanging and promoting the freest flow of informa-
tion possible in those unclassified areas where secrets involving weapons development
and bona fide national security are not involved. We condemn the Eisenhower Ad-
ministration for the excesses practiced in this vital area, and pledge the Democratic
Party to reverse this tendency, substituting a rule of law for that of broad claims of
executive privilege.
We reaffirm our position of 1952 'to press strongly for world-wide freedom in the
gathering and dissemination of news.' We shall press for free access to information
throughout the world for our journalists and scholars. 1952 Republican Party Plat-

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