TN court backs keeping deliberative records hidden from public

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Transparency advocates are warning about the ramifications of a recent Tennessee appeals court ruling that "high government officials" can keep documents secret if they deem them part of their decision-making process.

The appeals court decision upheld a lower court's ruling that then-Gov. Phil Bredesen was justified in denying records on the basis that they part of the "deliberative process" about how to deal with TennCare protesters encamped in the Capitol in 2005.

The unanimous opinion written by Bredesen appointee Judge Richard Dinkins endorsed the argument that "advice high governmental officials receive be protected from disclosure."

Nashville Tea Party founder Ben Cunningham called the ruling "an assault on open government."

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