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Clay Calvert and Frank LoMonte Pen Article on Challenges to Public-Comment Periods

Journalism Professor Clay Calvert, director of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, and Frank LoMonte, director of the College’s Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, co-authored “The Open Mic, Unplugged: Challenges to Viewpoint-Based Constraints on Public-Comment Periods” published in Case Western University Law Review, Vol. 69, Issue 1, 2018.

Clay Calvert
Clay Calvert

The article references two Supreme Court First Amendment cases involving restrictions and punishments on speakers for expressing their opinions during public-comment periods. Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach involved the arrest of a citizen-critic who refused to stop using his city council’s open-mic period to decry political corruption. Nieves v. Bartlett involves a person arrested for confronting a highway patrolman.

The article also examines the constitutionality of commercially available standard-form policies increasingly adopted by local government to restrict “insulting” speech, “personal attacks,” and other forms of citizen criticism.

Frank LoMonte
Frank LoMonte

According to Calvert and LoMonte, “even if courts develop a coherent consensus regarding when citizens can permissibly be stifled at government meetings, the onus rests squarely on government officials to heed those rules and, in the process, to recognize the importance of the First Amendment rights of both free speech and petition in a self-governing democracy.”

Posted: January 28, 2019
Category: Brechner News
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