I know all of you have put your lives aside for the moment to follow the Jon & Kate saga. Bastardette certainly has. There is nothing more satisfying than watching vapid 15-minute-of-famers implode on national television.
I ran across this AP story a few minutes ago. Seems our favorite couple has filed for divorce in Montgomery County (PA) due to its local sealed divorce records law, rather than in Berks County, their home jurisdiction. See, there’s a “special” law in Montgomery County that seals divorce records from snoopy neighbors.
What a relief! We certainly wouldn’t want these well-known privacy hounds to miss one minute’s sleep worrying that their deepest darkest escapades might be viewed by the prying eyes of the public.
This isn’t setting well with “open records advocates” who argue that the special law is wrong. Using words similar to the Doe v Sundquist ruling that opined “A birth is simultaneously an intimate occasion and a public event-the government has long kept records of when, where; and by whom babies are born….” they argue:
“A divorce is a public act,” said Robert Richards, founding co-director of the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment at Penn State University. “They are not going to private mediators and handling it that way. They are going to the public court system to dissolve their marriage.”
He added the policies of Montgomery County and Philadelphia — another jurisdiction that seals divorce records — might be vulnerable to a legal challenge because the Pennsylvania Constitution declares that “all courts shall be open.”
“To close off access to a whole category of files, to me, is going much too far,” he said.
Of course, Pennsylvania, except for a small window back in the early 1980s, has sealed off access to a whole category of other files, too: the original birth certificates of the adopted. We don’t remember any “open records advocates” complaining about that. I guess that’s different.