In examining the revolutionary characteristics of the concept of the people's right to know, this study calls attention to pecuniary motives behind the American Revolution. During the founding period of the nation, the concept of the people's right to know-closely tied to the financial transparency of various taxes levied, the allocation of natural resources, and the proper education of the public-was repeatedly articulated and underscored as one of the most important democratic principles: the embodiment of the transcendent idealism of the democratic yearning of the people.
The Founders and the Revolutionary Underpinning of the Concept of the Right to Know
The concept of the people's right to know is one of the most important prerequisites in the democratic decision-making process. However, it can be problematic, especially when journalists claim that they represent the public.1 Van Alstyne has pointed out that the press, by seeking special status as the public's fiduciary, would invite additional regulation based on that same fiduciary theory.2 Lewis has also warned that special protection for the press would tend to exacerbate journalistic arrogance and create a journalist-centered jurisprudence, diverting attention from the equally deserving First Amendment concerns of individuals.3Used interchangeably with "free flow of information" or "freedom of information," the phrase "the people's right to know" became popular with the publication of a book titled after the term by Harold Cross in 1953, and particularly with the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act [hereinafter the FOI Act] in 1966.4 Furthermore, the phrase "the right to know" became one of the important principles that guided the performance of the media in the 1970s with the rise of investigative reporting after the Pentagon Papers case and Watergate.5Many scholars have examined the constitutionality of the concept through a functional or a structural analysis based on various theories of popular sovereignty and/or through a textual analysis based on historical documents such as the constitutional convention speeches made at the federal and state level, the Constitution, the First Amendment, and letters written by the founders.6 In the 1950s and 1960s, particularly during the eleven years of hearings for the FOI Act of 1966, the democratic import of the concept of the right to know was strongly emphasized.7 In the 1970s and 1980s, however, the inevitability of keeping government secr...