The phrase “the right to know” does not appear in the Constitution, and the founders probably never intended that citizens should have a legally enforceable right to demand information from their rulers. Still, the founders valued learning and information for themselves, and they appreciated the importance of an informed citizenry.1

As early as 1765, John Adams of Massachusetts wrote:

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right … an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers.

James Madison of Virginia, the principal architect of ...

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