While inmates, at times, may make dubious requests for public documents, asking for a copy of the state Constitution isn't among them.
That's why it's disheartening to learn that the Department of State initially declined a state inmate's request for a copy of the constitution because the agency didn't consider it a public record because it was not a document the department made because of an action it took, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reports.
The state Constitution is perhaps the most public document in Pennsylvania because it forms the basis upon which all of state government resides. Without the state Constitution, there is no Pennsylvania.
It's not like this is some obscure document either. There is only one Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and anyone employed by state government should know that.
As for the cost, the state can charge up to 25 cents per page for copying a public document.
The state constitution can be viewed online at www.pa.gov using the search word: constitution.
Terry Mutchler, executive director of the Open Records Office, told The Patriot-News that the matter "almost leaves me speechless." Her office ordered the Department of State to send inmate Michael Baynard a copy of the Constitution.
The Department of State told the Harrisburg paper that it will consider open-records requests for copies of the state constitution on a case-by-case basis.
We hope that doesn't mean the government might deny other requests for the constitution.
If so, Gov. Tom Corbett should make sure his Cabinet secretaries know that's unacceptable.
The constitution is the public's record and access to it should not be restricted.