Here in North Carolina we have a public records law:
§ 132-1. “Public records” defined.
(a) “Public record” or “public records” shall mean all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data-processing records, artifacts, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions. Agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions shall mean and include every public office, public officer or official (State or local, elected or appointed), institution, board, commission, bureau, council, department, authority or other unit of government of the State or of any county, unit, special district or other political subdivision of government.
(b) The public records and public information compiled by the agencies of North Carolina government or its subdivisions are the property of the people. Therefore, it is the policy of this State that the people may obtain copies of their public records and public information free or at minimal cost unless otherwise specifically provided by law. As used herein, “minimal cost” shall mean the actual cost of reproducing the public record or public information.
In short, if you work for the state, your state “stuff” is free to be requested by the public. It appears that some folks at The University of North Carolina are a titch upset:
A group of law professors at UNC-Chapel Hill is standing behind Gene Nichol, director of the school’s poverty center, after a conservative think tank requested the left-leaning professor’s emails, phone records and calendars.
Thirty law professors signed a letter questioning the motives of the Raleigh-based Civitas Institute, which promotes limited government and implementation of conservative policies. On Oct. 25, the institute used the state’s public records law to seek six weeks’ worth of Nichol’s email correspondence, his calendar entries, phone logs, text messages and a list of electronic devices issued to Nichol by the university.
“Surveilling a professor’s communications is a really troubling approach to protecting liberty,” the law professors wrote in a letter published Tuesday on the Chapel Hill News website and in the paper’s Wednesday print edition. “We deeply admire Gene Nichol’s commitment to protecting and speaking for the state’s poor and disempowered. The only comfort we take from this sorry request by Civitas is our confidence that it will increase his passion.”
Look, I have no idea why Civitas would request Nichols’ stuff, but they don’t have to explain themselves. The good professor is an employee of the state, and the law says that people who are such employees are obligated to deliver their stuff when requested.
I think that a larger threat against our liberty is not that Government has to answer to the people, but that the people are somehow supposed to explain their desire to want that answer.