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Tuesday, April 13, 2004
 

Newspapers Drop Earnhardt Photo Case: A group of Florida newspapers has dropped its lawsuit attempting to gain access to the Dale Earnhardt autopsy photos. The newspapers made a claim under the Freedom of Information Act, but were deterred by a recent Supreme Court ruling in a different case.

In National Archives and Records Administration v. Favish, the Court ruled 9-0 that the photos taken at the scene of former White House adviser Vincent Foster's suicide did not have to be released. The court held that exemption 7(c) to the FOIA, which protects the "personal privacy" of individuals could also be extended to family members. The court also held that 7(c) could only be trumped by a showing that the information is likely to advance a significant public interest, which much be more specific than just having the information for its own sake.

I agree with the Supreme Court's decision. There is no need for the press, or anyone, to see photographs of the deceased unless there is a significant interest at stake. Yes, a free press is vital to an open society, but lines must be drawn to protect the privacy rights and feelings of families. This case seems open-and-shut, and the Supreme Court agreed.





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