Open Government Issues The ACLU of Rhode Island is Involved With - Court Cases, Legislation, News Releases


Protecting Civil Liberties in Rhode Island for Over 50 Years


Open Government

The ACLU of Rhode Island works daily to improve citizens' access to public records and meetings through litigation, public education and advocacy.

Why is open government important?

  • Openness in government is a linchpin of democracy, ensuring that the voters have the information they need to choose their leaders and then evaluate their performance in office.
  • Public access to information is an essential tool in the fight against corruption in government.
  • Public access to information can save taxpayer dollars and expose poor government practices.

The public has the right to know what its government is doing. After all, isn't our government supposed to be "of the people, by the people, and for the people"?

Learn more about the RI Access to Public Records Act here.

Learn more about the RI Open Meetings Act here.

Open Government in the News

  • Sep, 17, 2018: ACLU to North Smithfield on Proposed Nike Ban: Just Don’t Do It; Plans Now Made to Rescind Ban
  • Sep, 10, 2018: ACLU Statement on the Fatal Shooting of DaShawn Cole by Pawtucket Police
  • Aug, 20, 2018: ACLU Sues Woonsocket for Retaliating Against Domestic Violence Service Agency

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Open Government Related Court Cases

2018: Sojourner House v. Woonsocket
Category: Active Case    Discrimination    Rights of the Poor    Due Process    Free Speech    Open Government    Women's Rights    

About This Case:
This is a federal lawsuit against the City of Woonsocket for unlawfully withholding grant funds from Sojourner House, a social service agency that helps victims of domestic violence. The lawsuit alleges that the City withheld the funds without cause or due process, and then retaliated against the agency after it petitioned other government agencies for help in resolving the dispute over the funds.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in August 2018.

ACLU Cooperating Attorneys:
Matthew T. Oliverio, Stephen M. Prignano

Supporting Documents
2018: ACLU v. Miller
Category: Discrimination    LGBT Rights    Open Government    Students' Rights    

About This Case:
This is a lawsuit filed in RI Superior Court against the Achievement First Mayoral Academy for failure to respond to requests from the ACLU for copies of its policy pertaining to the rights and protections afforded transgender students.  The lawsuit argue that the school's failure to respond is a violation of the state's open records law.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in August 2018.

ACLU Cooperating Attorney:
Annie Goldberg

Supporting Documents

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Open Government Related Legislation

Board of Elections Rule-Making (H 7438, S 2088) DIED
Category: 2018    Open Government    

In March, the ACLU testified before the House and Senate Judiciary committees in support of legislation by Rep. Joseph Shekarchi (7438) and Sen. Stephen Archambault (2088) to eliminate the exemption of the RI State Board of Elections from the rule-making provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). As it currently stands, the Board can adopt regulations affecting the voting process without having to go through a public notice or hearing process. 

The importance of the APA cannot be overstated. People have a right to know the laws and regulations they are supposed to abide by, and to have input into them. The Board of Elections is an important agency that sets the rules for implementing the democratic process of voting, and should not be allowed to operate in the dark; however, no action was taken on this bill.