High court hears case accusing government of lying
By Tony Mauro
Special to freedomforum.org
WASHINGTON ? Routine communication between government officials and the press and public would be chilled forever if those officials can be sued for lying, the Supreme Court was told yesterday.
Lawyers for government officials also pleaded with the court not to "constitutionalize" the Freedom of Information Act by turning access to truthful government information into a constitutional right.
"There are lots of different situations when the government has legitimate reasons to give out false information," Solicitor General Theodore Olson told the court.
The comments came during oral arguments in an unusual case brought by Texas lawyer Jennifer Harbury as a way of holding U.S. officials responsible for the disappearance, torture and death of her husband in Guatemala 10 years ago.
"My day in court, when I could have saved my husband’s life, was extinguished," Harbury told the justices. It is extremely rare for a party in a Supreme Court case to argue on her own behalf, but Harbury did so as the next step in a 10 year crusade on her husband’s behalf.
The case before the court is Christopher v. Harbury.
Harbury’s husband, Efrain Bamaca-Velasquez, a Guatemalan rebel leader, disappeared in 1992. Harbury says that when she asked for U.S. help, government officials deceived her by saying they would investigate