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Secrecy of Consumer Safety Report before the 4th Circuit today

Posted By Sharon McCloskey On October 31, 2013 @ 9:56 am In Uncategorized | Comments Disabled

This morning the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond will hear argument in the appeal of a decision [1] by U.S District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. in Maryland, allowing a company to secretly and anonymously stop the Consumer Product Safety Commission from publishing a negative report about one of its products on the CPSC’s publicly available website.

We’ve written before about the case [2], Company Doe v. Public Citizen — a case with significant consumer and First Amendment issues, as Public Citizen noted yesterday in this blog post [3]:

This is the first challenge to the congressionally-mandated CPSC database.  . . .  If companies can challenge reports in the database in secret, Congress’s goal of informing the public will be undermined by years’ worth of secret litigation during which the public will be oblivious to potential hazards.

[The] case [also] tests the judiciary’s commitment to the First Amendment right of access to court proceedings, which enables public oversight of the working of government and facilitates public participation. If — as the district court novelly held — a corporate reputational interest justifies secret litigation or the use of a pseudonym, one can a imagine a lot of companies stepping forward to seek secrecy. Companies sued for fraud, pollution, discrimination, and (of course) making dangerous products could all claim they ought to be allowed to litigate in secret under this view.

Article printed from The Progressive Pulse: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org

URL to article: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2013/10/31/secrecy-of-consumer-safety-report-before-the-4th-circuit-today/

URLs in this post:

[1] decision: http://www.citizen.org/documents/Company-Doe-v-Tenenbaum-Revised-Memorandum-Opinion-Redacted.pdf

[2] the case: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2013/05/16/fourth-circuit-considers-limits-to-sealed-cases/

[3] blog post: http://pubcit.typepad.com/clpblog/2013/10/company-doe-case-before-fourth-circuit-tomorrow-crucial-consumer-and-first-amendment-implications.html

[4] The Fourth Circuit hands down a win for public access to court records: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/04/16/the-fourth-circuit-hands-down-a-win-for-public-access-to-court-records/

[5] Fourth Circuit rules “Choose Life” license plate law is unconstitutional: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/02/11/fourth-circuit-rules-choose-life-license-plate-law-is-unconstitutional/

[6] Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court: What you need to know: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/03/21/hobby-lobby-at-the-supreme-court-what-you-need-to-know/

[7] Another editorial condemns secrecy over legislative documents: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/01/31/another-editorial-condemns-secrecy-over-legislative-documents/

[8] NC Supreme Court gets a failing grade for financial disclosure: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2013/12/04/nc-supreme-court-gets-a-failing-grade-for-financial-disclosure/

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