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The Mundy Firm

FOIA - Freedom of Information Act

In this case, we must decide whether the Virginia Freedom of Information Act... violates either the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV of the Constitution or the dormant Commerce Clause. The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), provides that "all public records shall be open to inspection and copying by any citizens of the Commonwealth," but it grants no such right to non-Virginians.... We hold, however, that petitioners' constitutional rights were not violated. By means other than the state FOIA, Virginia made available to petitioners most of the information that they sought, and the Commonwealth's refusal to furnish the additional information did not abridge any constitutionally protected privilege or immunity. Nor did Virginia violate the dormant Commerce Clause. The state Freedom of Information Act does not regulate commerce in any meaningful sense, but instead provides a service that is related to state citizenship. 


No Court Review of Certain Church Matters

 

The ecclesiastical abstention doctrine "prevents secular courts from reviewing many types of disputes that would require an analysis of 'theological controversy, church discipline, ecclesiastical government, or the conformity of the members of the church to the standard of morals required.' The doctrine provides that "civil courts are to accept 'as final, and as binding on them' the decisions of an ecclesiastical institution on such matters.  The "ministerial exception" refers to the application of the doctrine in the employment context. Id. It provides that civil courts lack subject matter jurisdiction to decide cases concerning employment decisions by religious institutions concerning a member of the clergy or an employee in a ministerial position. Id.

 


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