For years, we've covered the efforts of rogue archivist Carl Malamud (previously) to make the law free for all to read, from liberating paywalled court records from PACER to risking fines and even prison to make standards that have been incorporated into regulation available, to his longrunning fight with the State of Georgia to make the state's annotated legal code public, which may be headed for the Supreme Court.
The freedom to read and know the law is an abstract, technical subject that lacks the sexiness of other fights in the digital age, but it's also one of the most urgent and foundational fights we have. Malamud's tireless decades of work on this issue are finally paying off in the form of mainstream attention, most recently, a great profile in the New York Times that lays out the issue in Georgia with admirable clarity.
The annotations include descriptions of judicial decisions interpreting the statutes. Only a very bad lawyer would fail to consult them in determining the meaning of a statute.
For instance, Georgia has a law on the books making sodomy a crime. An annotation tells the reader that the law has been held unconstitutional "insofar as it criminalizes the performance of private, unforced, noncommercial acts of sexual intimacy between persons legally able to consent."
Accused of 'Terrorism' for Putting Legal Materials Online [Andrew Liptak/New York Times]
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