Wash. high court approves governor secrecy

<p>WA State Supreme Court</p>

WA State Supreme Court

SEATTLE (AP) -- Washington state's Supreme Court says the governor can claim an "executive privilege" as a reason to withhold documents from the public.

In an 8-1 decision, justices said today the governor's office has an inherent privilege as a result of the constitutional separation of powers. State public records law has more than 300 explicit exemptions, but executive privilege is not one of them.

The administration of Gov. Chris Gregoire cited executive privilege as a reason to keep documents private hundreds of times. The Freedom Foundation brought a lawsuit after Gregoire's office withheld records related to the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement, medical marijuana and criminal pardons.

Justices say the privilege only protects communications made to inform policy choices, not all conversations involving the governor.