Most Americans take their right to speak freely and obtain information from their government lightly. In celebration of the nation's birthday, here is a quiz about basic First Amendment freedoms and open government laws:
1. What are the freedoms listed in the First Amendment?
a. Press, religion, speech, petition for redress
b. Right to bear arms
c. Press, religion, speech, assembly, and to petition for redress
d. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and freedom from want and fear
2. Based on the famous U.S. Supreme Court case involving the Pentagon Papers, New York Times v. United States:
a. Public officials must show "actual malice" to prove libel
b. The U.S. government has little power to exercise prior restraint on publication of government information once leaked
c. The U.S. government can shut down any publication that poses a threat to national security
d. The U.S. government has ultimate control of national security secrets
3. Under First Amendment case law, the public and press have a right to attend:
a. Most courtroom proceedings
b. Utah public meetings
c. Federal public meetings
d. All of the above
4. The Utah Legislature enacted the state's current Open and Public Meetings Act in what year?
5. What kinds of law enforcement records are considered "public" under Utah's Government Records Access and Management Act?
a. Initial contact reports
b. Autopsy reports
c. Concealed weapon permits
d. Mug shots
e. a and b
f. a and d
6. Which are valid reasons to close a public meeting in Utah?
a. Discussions about budgets
b. Interviews to replace a city council member or mayor between general elections
c. Discussion of the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual
d. Discussions about "personnel"
7. Which records are considered "private" under GRAMA?
a. Medical records
b. Private text messages of legislators
c. Welfare recipient records
d. Personal income tax records
e. All of the above
8. If you want to obtain records about a U.S. Department of Defense audit at Hill Air Force Base, which law should you use to request them?
a. Utah's Government Records Access and Management Act
b. Federal Freedom of Information Act
c. Utah's Open and Public Meetings Act
d. Federal Government in the Sunshine Act
9. Because some records are "protected" or "private" under GRAMA, a public body can then use that as a reason to close a meeting to discuss these records.
True or false
10. It's not OK for a public body to close a meeting when someone in the audience stands up and threatens to sue.
True or false
1. c, 2. b, 3. a, 4. c, 5. f, 6. c, 7. e, 8. b, 9. F, 10. T.
To learn more about open government laws and see publicly available records visit Utahsright.com.
Joel Campbell writes about the First Amendment and open government for the Tribune. He is an associate journalism professor at BYU. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.