IL Supreme Court Clarifies FOIA Laws

May 18, 2017

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that the Illinois High School Association has no obligation to release internal documents.  The court said the IHSA is not subject to Freedom of Information laws, calling it a private non-profit, not a governmental body.  FOIA , as it’s often called, allows anyone to request records related to government work.  

Matt Topik is the attorney who represented the watchdog Better Government Association. The group wanted to get records from the IHSA on its sponsorship deals with the likes of Gatorade and Nike.  The IHSA oversees sports tournaments for high schools. Topik says the decision was disappointing, but it also clarified the reach of Illinois’ FOIA laws.

“We were happy to see the Supreme Court adopted a much more liberal test for what constitutes a governmental function.”

The Court wrote that FOIA requests can apply to functions of government, in other words, if governments outsources one of its responsibilities to a private entity, that is subject to FOIA.  Topik says the decision could help the Better Government Association’s case to obtain records from a private organization that manages Chicago’s Navy Pier.​