One of the responsibilities we as an editorial board take most seriously is highlighting the importance of government openness and accountability. While that has clear implications for the work we do as media, it is first and foremost a basic tenant of democracy. Citizens have an indispensable right to know what its government is doing on the citizens’ behalf. Typically we highlight this necessary public scrutiny of government during Sunshine Week each spring. But this Friday, December 20th, is an important landmark. It is the 100th anniversary of the publication of an article by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.
Brandeis made the argument for exposing corporate corruption by writing,” Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” Brandeis’s support for sunlight was soon applied to government. It is today an accepted principle. But it also one that is under constant attack. In acknowledging the anniversary of Brandeis’s comments we acknowledge the need to counter that attack and never forget the importance and value of sunlight.