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Supreme Court Lets Secret Case Stay Secret

The Supreme Court yesterday declined to accept review of a federal employment discrimination case that has remained hidden from public view for seven years, according to The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. RCFP had filed an amicus brief on behalf of itself and 29 news organizations urging the court to accept the appeal.

The petitioner, New York Law Publishing Company, had sought to intervene in the underlying civil action in order to unseal the docket and record of the case, in which the plaintiff claimed she was wrongly fired because she had an abortion. (The New York Law Publishing Company is a division of Incisive Media, publisher of this blog.) In its brief, the RCFP argued:

Despite the profound issues at stake -- abortion, medical privacy, and alleged employment discrimination -- this case was conducted entirely in secret for seven years. Searching for the case on the district court or circuit court docket yields no result. The hearings, briefs, court records, and even trial court orders were all hidden from public view, and it was not until the Third Circuit issued a precedential opinion in May that the public became aware of the existence of this case. Even now, every record is sealed save the Third Circuit's orders and the Supreme Court docket. Absent correction from this Court or a change of heart below, the case will presumably go to trial in secret.

While the petition was pending before the Supreme Court, the woman settled her case with her former employer. An Associated Press report suggests "that may have affected the high court's decision."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 11, 2008 at 12:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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