(Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation) – Las Vegas — The Nevada Supreme Court today ruled in favor of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, saying a lower district court was wrong to dismiss the Institute’s case calling on the Clark County School District to release its directory of taxpayer-funded and government-issued teacher email addresses.
The state’s high court reversed the ruling by the Eighth Judicial District Court, holding that the “directory of CCSD teachers’ email addresses is a public record within the plain meaning of the [Nevada Public Records Act]” and, as such, “should be open for inspection or copying by the public.”
In response to Friday’s ruling, Joseph Becker, director and chief legal officer of NPRI’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation, issued the following remarks:
Today’s ruling constitutes a win not just for NPRI and its supporters, but for all advocates of government transparency. This case brought together unlikely allies who, despite other differences, believe the only way to ensure government is accountable to the people who fund it is to require it to be open. This ruling is the latest example of the Nevada Supreme Court overturning lower-court decisions that wrongly limit government transparency under the Nevada Public Records Act.
As the Supreme Court held, the Nevada Public Records Act is clear that government email addresses issued to public employees are a matter of public record and not confidential. The purpose of the NPRA is to ensure government records are made available to the public and the Court’s ruling today reinforces this vital standard.
NPRI sued CCSD in March 2013 after the school district refused to provide the email addresses existing in district records. Later that year, District Judge Doug Smith ruled the email address records were not subject to disclosure under the Nevada Public Records Act.
NPRI’s challenge to CCSD’s scofflaw denial of public records was also supported by a number of groups and individuals that don’t often see eye-to-eye. The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Institute, and the Nevada Press Association, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Steve Sebelius, and the Review-Journal editorial board all expressed support for NPRI’s reading of the Act.
The Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation is a public-interest law organization that litigates when necessary to protect the fundamental rights of individuals as set forth in the state and federal constitutions.Learn more about the CJCL at NPRI.org/Litigation.