Court limits executive privilege in IPRA case

Jun 29, 2012

The New Mexico Supreme Court has significantly limited the ability of government officials to use executive privilege when denying access to records under the Inspection of Public Records Act. 

The court's ruling comes in a case that stemmed from a request by the Republican Party for public records from former Gov. Bill Richardson's administration. The information was sought as part of an investigation into whether people were using New Mexico drivers' licenses to unlawfully register to vote.

The court ruled that executive privilege can only narrowly be applied to the governor and documents involving advice from the governor's closest aides. The court also said records can no longer be withheld under a "rule of reason" doctrine in which the government decides disclosure isn't in the public interest.

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government says the ruling is "a resounding victory" for the public's right to know.