This Oct. 8, 2010 file photo shows the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court in a group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington. The Supreme
This Oct. 8, 2010 file photo shows the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court in a group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington. The Supreme Court is embarking on a new term beginning Monday that could be as consequential as the last one with the prospect for major rulings about affirmative action, gay marriage and voting rights. Seated from left to right are: Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Standing, from left are: Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr., and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)
FARMINGTON — A recent unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision giving Virginia authority to deny non-residents public records has sparked concerns about what impacts it could have on the Four Corners region, which includes four states.

New Mexico open-government advocates and one Farmington city councilwoman say Monday's ruling comes as a surprise.

“We have issues that cross state lines, especially because of our location,” said Councilwoman Mary Fischer in a Tuesday phone interview. “It just seems like an unusual decision.”

She added that she had not yet read the court's ruling.

“On face value, it would seem that open is open,” Fischer said.

New Mexico's Inspection of Public Records Act contains no language preventing non-residents from obtaining public records.

According to a public records guide published by Attorney General Gary King's office, “every person has a right to inspect public records of this state.”

Viki Harrison, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico, a public interest advocacy group, said the court's ruling still is worrisome.

“Public interest doesn't stop at a state boarder,” Harrison said. “(The decision) is just adding an extra barrier to open records laws. This is not a precedent that we support at all.”

Monday's Supreme Court ruling originates from public records requests filed by Mark J. McBurney, of Rhode Island, and Roger W. Hurlbert, of California.

“We hold, however, that petitioners' constitutional rights were not violated,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote in the majority opinion. “By means other than the state (Freedom of Information Act), Virginia made available to petitioners most of the information that they sought, and the (state's) refusal to furnish the additional information did not abridge any constitutionally protected privilege or immunity.

“This Court has repeatedly made clear that there is no constitutional right to obtain all the information provided by (Freedom of Information Act) laws.”

Greg Yee can be reached at gyee@daily-times.com; 505-564-4606. Follow him on Twitter @GYeeDT.