ACLU plans to support BC Archivists in Brief

Civil Liberties Union plans to support BC archivists in brief
By Melissa Tabeek
Special to the Reporter
Boston Irish Reporter
February 23, 2012

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts filed a motion last week requesting an extension of time in order to prepare an amicus brief in support of two former researchers for Boston College embroiled in an ongoing fight to keep historical records involving the conflict in Northern Ireland from being released to the British government.

The two men, Anthony McIntrye and Ed Moloney, began research and interviews for the Belfast Project —sponsored by Boston College — in 2001. Last spring the British government began the legal process to gain access to material from the project through a treaty between the UK and the US.

British prosecutors obtained a federal subpoena to force BC officials to turn over specific records relating to a criminal investigation involving former members of the IRA. Boston College fought the subpoena and lost in December. McIntrye and Moloney filed a lawsuit that was dismissed by Judge Young in a Jan. 24 hearing.

In the motion, the ACLU asks that the United States Court of Appeals for the First District grant a time extension to March 2 in order to for the ACLU to aptly “prepare an amicus brief that would be useful to the Court.”

The appellants’ — McIntrye and Moloney — brief was due on Friday, which means that by court rules, the ACLU would have to file their brief by Feb. 24.

Sarah Wunsch — a staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts — was involved in filing the motion and said that it is an important cause the ACLU to support, as it threatens both the First Amendment and the future of historical research.

“Generally, the First Amendment is closely tied to academic research. When researchers are going to fear that they’ll be forced to reveal sources, people may not be willing to talk to them. In the area of history, that could deprive a lot of people,” said Wunsch.

A hearing is expected to be held in March regarding further release of material from BC archives.