Faegre Drinker business litigation partners Alicia Hickok, Mark Taticchi and associate Elizabeth Casey represented the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania in a six-year battle to review an unredacted copy of the Pennsylvania State Police’s (PSP) policy regarding how it monitors Pennsylvanians’ social media accounts.
In March 2017, the ACLU of Pennsylvania sent a request to review the policy to the PSP under the state’s Right-To-Know Law, which is designed to promote transparency in government. The PSP responded with a heavily redacted nine-page document, arguing that disclosing the full, unredacted policy would endanger its investigations and threaten public safety.
In June 2020, Faegre Drinker represented the ACLU of Pennsylvania in a successful appeal in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the case was returned to the Commonwealth Court to review the social media monitoring policy based on the Supreme Court’s analysis. Although the Commonwealth Court agreed that the PSP had not carried its burden, it sent the matter back to the Office of Open Records for a full hearing, and the Supreme Court agreed to review that decision.
In its August 22, 2023, opinion, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered that the PSP provide an unredacted copy of its full social media policy to the ACLU of Pennsylvania. This win follows a series of court decisions, including two appeals to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and is a significant victory for the ACLU and the citizens of Pennsylvania.
“The Right-to-Know Law is an important instrument for the public to know and understand what its government is doing, and this decision will ensure that it works as intended,” said Hickok. “We are very grateful to this Supreme Court for its careful consideration of the issues presented here—twice."
Read the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s press release for more information.