The lawsuit against the papers of anti-immigration activists at the University of Michigan was on trial
ANN ARBOR, MI – After four years of fighting, he should have access to anti-immigration activist John Tanton’s papers, which are housed at the University of Michigan because they are publicly known. A Virginia-based attorney will be able to represent his or her case on a case pending trial.
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in a preliminary ruling on Friday, April 9, and by dividing the court equally in a 3-3 vote, upheld a 2019 appeal court ruling that the sealed records should be considered public . If there is no majority in a Supreme Court vote, the judgment of the lower court will prevail. The decision came after the Supreme Court held an oral hearing on January 6th.
Judges David Viviano, Brian Zahra, and Elizabeth T. Clement agreed. Chief Justice Bridget McCormack wrote a dissenting statement, which was followed by Justices Megan Cavanagh and Elizabeth Welch. Judge Richard Bernstein did not attend due to a family relationship.
Plaintiff Hassan Ahmad said he was excited to argue that the documents should be released in court after filing a complaint requesting the papers from Tanton as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) motion .
Up until that point, Ahmad said there had been no actual decision as to whether or not the papers were publicly available, but rather whether he successfully tried his case to go to court.
“They tried to keep me out of the courthouse doors for four years and now we’re inside,” Ahmad said of the order.
UM spokesman Kim Broekhuizen said the university was reviewing the opinion.
“The ability to keep non-governmental papers from private donors for at least a certain period of time is fundamental to our academic mission and to our understanding of state history,” said Broekhuizen.
Despite Viviano’s opinion, he was inclined to believe that the appeals court had reached the correct conclusion as to the meaning and application of MCL 15.232 (i) – a FOIA provision. The application of this provision is still not entirely clear.
“The question arises as to whether the archives of a private individual, which were given to the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan on the condition that the contents are not made publicly available for a certain period of time, are subject to the FOIA as a public record,” wrote Viviano. “Rather than relying on the general goals of FOIA to determine the definition of ‘public records’ and resolve the case today, I would wait until we can assess whether the materials here, even if they qualify as public records, are below the exemption from FOIA for the protection of privacy. ”
In her dissenting opinion, McCormack said she was concerned that the Court of Appeal’s decision had failed to mark the mark, noting that the FOIA’s enactment by lawmakers should “provide complete and complete information about government affairs and the official acts of those who as the public, they represent civil servants and public employees. “
“A private individual’s sealed, donated writings to a library don’t do such a thing,” wrote McCormack.
Tanton donated the papers with a request that these boxes remain closed until April 2035, according to the terms of the gift.
A total of 25 boxes of documents from Tanton were donated to the university. UM has argued, while denying Ahmad’s FOIA request, that 10 boxes of these records are from a private source and are not available to the university community or the public under the agreement with the donor because the documents are not “used, owned, or kept “were fulfilling an official university function. “
Ahmad filed a lawsuit with the Michigan Court of Claims in June 2017 looking for materials documenting Tanton’s work as a political and environmental activist from 1960 through the 1990s. The Court of Claims dismissed the lawsuit in November 2017, but the Court of Appeals overturned that decision in 2019. A panel of judges ruled that Ahmad sufficiently determined that UM retained and retained Tanton’s papers in accordance with the stated purposes and the official functions of the library.
The papers include a number related to his involvement in planned parenting in Northern Michigan, zero population growth, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which Tanton founded in 1979 to end illegal immigration and a cap on legal immigration to be determined.
No date has been set for the process.
Tanton died on July 16, 2019 in Petoskey after a 16-year battle with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 85.
Judge: The papers of anti-immigration activists at the University of Michigan are publicly known
State Supreme Court to hear a case about anti-immigration activists’ papers housed at the University of Michigan
Michigan anti-immigration founder John Tanton died at the age of 85