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The Supreme Court today declined to accept review of an appellate court ruling that has allowed all records in a federal employment discrimination case to be hidden from the public for seven years.
The Court offered no explanation for its refusal to accept the case, New York Law Publishing Company v. Doe.
The publishing firm and two affiliated publications filed a petition for review after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected its request to intervene in the case. It sought to unseal the docket and record in the case, in which the plaintiff claimed she was wrongly fired because she had an abortion.
The Reporters Committee filed a friend-of-the court brief on behalf of itself and 29 other leading media organizations.
“We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not take up the issue of whether secret cases are constitutional,” said Robert C. Clothier of Fox Rothschild LLP, who represented the publishing company. “This is a significant issue that we hope the Court will address soon to ensure that our legal system remains open and transparent to all.”
The Supreme Court’s decision is not the end of the story, since the Third Circuit made clear the district court should consider opening the case to the public.
“It is not our intention that the order we entered sealing the record on appeal would prevent the District Court from considering this issue anew,” the court said in a September 9 order. "The issue of the propriety of the continued sealing of the case now that it will proceed to trial is an important one; the District Court should feel free to decide this issue unfettered by our rulings to date.”