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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

WA High Court Examines Domestic Violence Survivors' Right to Shield Records

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023   

Washington state Supreme Court justices are hearing a case today
that involves access to records for public employees who have survived domestic violence or sexual assault. The conservative think tank Freedom Foundation has said exemptions to the Public Records Act are being applied too broadly for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or harassment.

Deirdre Bowen, Professor and director of Seattle University's Family Law Center, said lower courts have seized on the fact that the unions who sought to stop these requests did not detail the potential harm for everyone seeking an exemption.

"They did not have evidence for each of the 1,000 different survivors saying if your information were to be released, it would create substantial, imminent physical harm to you," Brown said.

Bowen added there are a number of factors that will determine the outcome of this case, but one important factor is that the definition of domestic violence changed last July. Along with physical harm or the threat of physical harm, it also includes coercive control. Bowen said exemption cases might need to be reanalyzed under this new definition and added this case is an example of where the law fails survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

"The tragic part is there's no willing to understand the nature of how domestic violence operates and that these survivors are most at risk actually when they've exited the relationship," she said.

Bowen noted that harm from domestic violence cases can go on for years or decades and can escalate over time and explained the right to public information is not the only right at stake in this case. There's also the constitutional right for safety and protection from bodily harm.

"The ultimate question is which is more important?," she said. "Are we willing to risk that constitutional right versus access to public records?"


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