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Law.Gov: Access To The Raw Materials Of Our Democracy

Publication Date: 
June 15, 2010
The White House
Beth Noveck

Deputy law librarian Erika Wayne is noted in the White House Blog. She spoke at an event in Washington hosted by the Center for American Progress on enabling access to information:

Open government seeks to make the workings and information of government more accessible to all. One important aspect of open government is enabling access to one of the most basic forms of government information – the law. As John Podesta, President of Center for American Progress said during the opening to today’s “Law.Gov” conference:

What it’s about is making all primary materials in the United States more readily available, from water districts, counties, cities, and states all the way up to the three branches of the federal government. It isn’t about building the ultimate web site and putting WestLaw out of business. What aims to achieve is changing how governmental bodies that make the law present their work product – pushing government to meet the basic requirement that the public has easy access to their work product.

Access to the law is vital to ensuring the rule of law. It also has very practical consequences of relevance to our daily lives. As Carl Malamud, organizer of the conference pointed out:


It is not self-evident that the law is available. As Erika Wayne, Deputy Law Librarian at Stanford Law School went on to describe, eight states assert copyright, which restricts use of the online versions of their codes. At least one state provides access to case law for a fee. PACER, the federal courts court records online system, imposes eight cent per page cost that several speakers commented on as limiting access to court records. ...