A legal newspaper in Pennsylvania has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a decision that allowed all records in a federal employment discrimination case to be hidden from the public.
The Legal Intelligencer petitioned the Supreme Court for review after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected its request to intervene in Doe v. C.A.R.S. Protection Plus Inc. The newspaper sought to unseal the docket and record in Doe, a case in which the plaintiff claimed she was wrongly fired because she had an abortion.
The Third Circuit ruled that the entire file in the case may be sealed. Indeed, The Legal Intelligencer reports that all the documents in Doe have been sealed for more than seven years. The existence of the case became publicly known in May, when the Third Circuit reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the case.
The constitutionality of such a blanket sealing order is unclear. Other courts, most notably the neighboring Second Circuit, have concluded that the public has a First Amendment right of access to docket sheets and other court records.