The Missouri Constitution establishes a government under which the people themselves are supposed to be the supreme authority. But in order to properly exercise their authority, the people must be equipped to investigate and supervise those officials who have been trusted with power over the state’s citizens. Decades ago, Missourians adopted the Sunshine Law, which gives citizens a right to attend and record most meetings of public governmental bodies and also a right to request and review most records retained by public governmental bodies. This law is a powerful tool for enabling citizens to keep government officials transparent and accountable to the people.
The problem is that although the Sunshine Law has been in place for a long time, a huge number of government officials simply ignore or pretend to be unaware of the law’s requirements. Consequently, some citizens who attempt to attend public meetings or review public documents find themselves stonewalled by officials who fiercely oppose allowing the public to inform themselves about the officials’ actions. The Freedom Center of Missouri is battling to ensure that citizens have full use of the tools they have created to keep their government transparent and accountable to the governed.