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Wanna Know a Secret (Law)? By Sean Gonsalves [View All]

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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-21-08 09:19 AM
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Wanna Know a Secret (Law)? By Sean Gonsalves
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Wanna Know a Secret (Law)?
by Sean Gonsalves

Once upon a time, a team of federal attorneys went before the Supreme Court only to discover that their entire case was based on a revoked executive order and therefore moot.

True story. Look it up. Panama Refining Company v. Ryan { http://www.llsdc.org/fed-reg-cfr / } The revoked presidential order was understandably missed by the attorneys. The revocation had never been made public an example of what legal scholars refer to as secret law.

Cases like that Congress, in the 30s and 40s, to pen legislation aimed at bringing order to the dissemination vital government information, amid the chaotic complexity of state administrative laws and downright shoddy record-keeping. Congress also established statutes to keep a growing body of secret law in check.

Thats how we got the Federal Register Act of 1935, the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946 and the golden key to open government (and investigative reporting) the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Those legislative acts exemplify one of the defining features of American government the publicizing of laws and regulations. The political philosophy isnt hard to understand. Secret laws are the antithesis of a free and open society, which explains why the first U.S. Congress mandated that every law, order, resolution, and vote (shall) be published in at least three of the public newspapers printing within the United States.

But, never mind for the moment the decline of newspapers, and the harmful implications it has for democratic governance. Even more alarming is the underreported increase of unpublicized secret laws, clandestinely cultivated in recent years.

Continued:
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/05/20/9070/
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