The Iowa Supreme Court celebrated Sunshine Week by reaffirming that public business must be conducted in public. At the same time, the divided court’s ruling in a Warren County case may have left some government officials with a cloudier view of what constitutes a public meeting.
The Iowa Supreme Court, in a 4-3 opinion released Friday, broke new ground in interpreting the Iowa Open Meetings and Records Law. The court found that it can be illegal for members of a public body to hold a private meeting to deliberate policy, even if a quorum is not present either in person or electronically. A dissenting opinion argued the court was substituting its own vague standard for the clear direction that the open meetings law applies only if a quorum is present.