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This Independence Day marks 48 years since the landmark Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was signed into law. FOIA grants any person the right to access information from the federal government, playing a critical role in making our government more open and transparent.
As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856-1941) wrote, "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." For nearly five decades, FOIA has helped shed sunlight on the American government, enabling citizens to strengthen and improve our government. From food and transportation safety to the use and disposal of chemicals, FOIA has helped the public ensure the health of our democracy, alongside our own well-being.
Open government is the cornerstone of effective government and a key ingredient in fostering the public’s trust. The League of Women Voters believes that transparency and accountability are in the interest of the government and citizens alike. When government decision-making is transparent, greater understanding is reached and better accountability is ensured. For over 94 years, League members have acted as government watchdogs at the federal, state and local levels through such work as observing government meetings, conducting audits and educating and informing voters.
Help celebrate the anniversary of FOIA by exercising your right to know! Attend a local government meeting, contact an elected official, or visit a government website.
Transparency and accountability are critical to a healthy and trusted government. As we mark Independence Day, we reflect on the power of the American public to participate in and help improve our democracy.