AUSTIN (March 25, 2013)—The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to hear an appeal of a ruling in a challenge to the Texas Open Records Act, which bans government officials from talking business in informal settings.
Last year a federal appeals court upheld the 1967 law, which prohibits a quorum of members of a governmental body from deliberating in secret.
Violations are punishable by as much as six months in jail and a $500 fine.
Officials from 15 Texas cities challenged the law in 2009, arguing that it banned such behavior as simply talking to a colleague about a matter on a city meeting agenda.
A U.S. district judge ruled against the cities in 2011, prompting an appeal to the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Today’s decision ensures that the Texas Open Meetings Act will continue holding elected officials accountable to conduct the taxpayers' business in the light of day and in a manner that informs the public about government decision-making,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said.
“Texans have a right to know about their government, their elected representatives and the policies that are being adopted on the public's behalf and, thanks to today’s ruling, that openness will continue,” he said.