Public Notice: An American Tradition

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Most of us take public notices for granted. Which is understandable. After all, they’ve been running in newspapers for hundreds of years. So we tend to forget about them.
But when you really think about it they’re kind of amazing. Federal and state governments actually passed laws requiring themselves—and politically powerful private interests—to disclose information about their plans and activities.
They represent the best of self-government. Along with open-meeting and freedom of information laws, they’re an important part of the three-legged stool of government transparency. They ensure citizens have access to information they need to participate in the governance of their communities. They’re an essential element of our fragile democracy.
Unfortunately, proposals that would drastically revise our public notice laws put their vital role in our democracy at risk.
This pamphlet will explore the origins, purpose and defining characteristics of public notice in the U.S., and will address the present threat and how we can avert it.