State NAACP serves governor’s office with intent to sue for violation of FOIA

Free Press staff report | 4/11/2024, 6 p.m.
The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP served Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office with a notice of intent to sue for ...
Rev. Bailey

The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP served Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office with a notice of intent to sue for violation of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (“VFOIA”), Va. Code §§ 2.2-3700 et seq. The notice was accompanied by a copy of the lawsuit the Virginia NAACP intends to file detailing the governor’s failure to produce any records responsive to the group’s request for public information sent on August 31, 2023.

The requested records relate to the Youngkin administration’s active subversion of his and his administration’s responsibilities under a 2020 law that created the position of Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (“DEI”) for the Commonwealth with the duties to promote inclusive practices in state government, address systemic inequities in state government practices and facilitate equity policy, according to a Virginia NAACP announcement. The request also sought records of Gov. Youngkin’s communications with state universities over their DEI efforts and other related matters.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Ropes & Gray LLP represents the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP.

“The purpose of today’s action, like all the actions we have taken, is to seek full transparency and to hold the Youngkin administration accountable,” said the Rev. Cozy Bailey Sr., president of the Virginia NAACP.

“Virginians, especially people of color, deserve to know what this administration is doing in its Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” he continued. “Some believe this governor is copying efforts seen in other states to limit or outright eliminate DEI practices in state government. If this is the direction he is going in, the Virginia NAACP will not stand by and allow this to happen. We look forward to our day in court.”

“The governor’s decision to brazenly refuse to provide any records whatsoever, nor an explanation as to why the office was withholding information, shows a total disregard for the public’s right to information about its state government,” said Katy Youker, director of the Economic Justice Project for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

“Our client has the right to information about the ways in which the Governor and DEI Director for the Commonwealth Martin Brown have undermined the administration’s legal duties to advance DEI, which the General Assembly understood as critical to ensuring fairness and a thriving democracy.”