We begin with the basic premise that all government, even a popularly elected one, is by its very nature tyrannical in tendency. As a result, the ability to access governmental records anonymously is essential in the preservation of our freedom, as an indispensable tool to keep in check the inherently tyrannical tendencies of government. Giving someone access to governmental records, but requiring them to disclose their identities, limits a citizen’s ability to check on the conduct of powerful governmental officials. Said more plainly, if a powerful, corrupt, public official is made aware of the identity of those seeking damaging information against him, it is not difficult to envision that official plotting to take action in retribution. While I concede that such a scenario may have a bit of a conspiratorial tone – the type that resembles the plotline of a cheap action novel, it is nonetheless critical that our vigilance for freedom examine scenarios where those seduced by power act to squelch the ability to investigate them; this vigilance should not be limited only to those with malevolent intent. Our vigilance needs to extend to those espousing misguided policies, benign in intent, but just as dangerous in effect.
Arizona has enacted a new set rules, which now require individuals to present identification before they can access court records. The reasons articulated for such a mandate appear on their face to be reasonable, but this is so only until one considers the broader implication that such a requirement has on the preservation of access to governmental records and its inherent implication on the maintenance of freedom.
For reasons that escape me, the state of Arizona has now become the leading state in the paranoiac parade of anti-immigrant measures. This is fascinating, if for no other reason because it stands as an odd juxtaposition to what most of us learned in grade school – you remember – our country was built on the strength of immigrants who came seeking freedom and opportunity and built a nearly idyllic melting pot. But whether or not you favor measures to restrict illegal immigrants, those measures must not result in the restrictions of our freedom, particularly those freedoms that are essential to the preservation of our ability to keep in check the actions of elected official and as result, increasing the inherently tyrannical powers of government.
A noteworthy component of Arizona’s court records access rules is that they were not created by some government bureaucrat; they were enacted by the Arizona Supreme Court.
For more information on Arizona’s new rules visit http://www.elpasotimes.com/newmexico/ci_17397949
An interesting question is whether such action could take place in Florida without legislative approval. Chapter 119 of the Florida statutes allows a citizen to access governmental records anonymously. Such requests for records don’t have to be in writing and don’t have to state the purpose for the request. Presumably a rule change like the one in Arizona would require the state legislature to amend Chapter 119.