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No Privacy Right for Home Addresses, High Court Says

Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules that your home address is public information.

By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent

HARRISBURG — A Supreme Court decision rules the state constitution does not provide a right to privacy for a home address.

The decision, announced Tuesday, stems from a lawsuit filed by Mel M. Marin, an Erie Democrat who would not provide his personal address while filing campaign documents as a prospective congressional candidate.

But the case has implications past such filings, as home addresses have been a point of contention in the state’s relatively new Office of Open Records, which handles the rules for public information requests.

The Commonwealth Court ruled on Marin’s case in January 2012, deciding the state constitution does not grant any right to privacy for one’s home address.

The Supreme Court did not issue its own opinion, but upheld the lower courts.

From Mark Scolforo of the Associated Press:

Terry Mutchler, director of the state Office of Open Records, said the decision has “profound implications” for other cases, as disputes over home addresses have arisen repeatedly under the Right-to-Know Law.

She said the question of whether to disclose home addresses, which are often protected under other states’ public information laws, has come up concerning teachers, firefighters, government employees and elected high officials.

Mutchler’s office was created under the version of the state open records law that took full effect in 2009 and is responsible for helping resolve disputes over access with state agencies and other governmental entities.

“I believe this will now clear up the outlying cases related to this,” Mutchler said. “It is now the law of the commonwealth.”

Commonwealth Court justices relied on existing case law to develop their original decision. They cited a 2003 Supreme Court case which said individuals cannot reasonably expect identities and addresses to remain secret when such information appears in public documents like phone books and government records.

Contact Melissa Daniels at melissa@paindependent.com

William F. Brenner February 24, 2013 at 03:50 PM
So Mel Marin didn't believe he should be required to provide his home address when filing campaign documents to run for congressional office? I guess verifying that he ACTUALLY LIVED IN THE DISTRICT HE WANTED TO REPRESENT wasn't a compelling enough reason for him!
Earle Leo Nelson Jr. February 24, 2013 at 04:14 PM
I can understand me not wanting to give "MY" home address, but I'm not running for public office and have to prove where I live, HE DOES!!!!
James Kephart Jr. February 24, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Earle, I bet this decision will not differentiate you and I from someone running for public office. The government believes it needs to know where every man, woman and child live within each state. I could make valid arguments on both sides of this issue, but it probably comes down to taxes and education - the government almost needs to have that right in order to manage state and local taxes and the schools. Okay, now I am back on my anit-gov't wagon...
Jenny February 25, 2013 at 11:59 PM
BULLCRAP...THIS IS GOING TO ESCALATE THE MURDER RATE, FLY THE STALKER/DOMESTIC ABUSE RATE UP!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS, WE SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO OUR PRIVATE ADDRESSES AS IF THE FEDS DON'T ALREADY KNOW WHERE WE LIVE. SO THIS JACKA** IS REALLY GOING TO MAKE IT SO CRAZY PEOPLE CAN JUST GOOGLE OUR ADDRESSES?!?! THAT'S NOT RIGHT GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL OR NOT...THEY THINK THE CITIZENS OF THE U.S. AREN'T IMPORTANT? THEY DON'T THINK WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT JUST HATE US FOR BEING OURSELVES & AREN'T A POTENTIAL TARGET??? ANY CITIZEN CAN BE TARGETED & KILLED FOR WHATEVER REASON. OMG THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE...& TO KNOW WHERE OUR CHILDREN ARE STAYING?!? SO ALL THE HORROR FLICKS THEY HAVE OUT THERE AREN'T JUST GONNA BE MAKE BELIEVE STORIES, THEY'RE GONNA BE REAL!!! THX MEL MARTIN!!!!!!
Jim Peters February 27, 2013 at 11:32 AM
This is not the fault of Mel Marin. On the contrary. He was against it. The Office of Open Records was created so the public could keep an eye on goverment. Looks like it's the other way around,now.

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