18 December 2006

Christopher King, Sandra Ziehm and Fred Teeboom forge new First Amendment public policy on Nashua School Board public comment speech restrictions.

We have prevailed, as you can see by the legal opinion issued on 14 December 2006 by Nashua City Attorney Stephen Bennett.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Mother Ann would be so proud, and James O'Brien's book has a new hook -- just in time for the final manuscript, due 31 December, 2006.

The board of education’s prohibition against public comment on “administrative and personnel-related problems” is a content based, not content neutral, restriction on speech. See Leventhal v. Vista Unified School Distr., 973 F. Supp. 951, 958 (S.D. Cal. 1997)

There remains the serious issue of the Board limiting public comment to agenda items, but that would be so foul and patently obfuscatory I hasten to add that they won't do that. At least not immediately.

So as the Nashua Telegraph front page Sunday story and last week's editorial have proved, one lone blogger -- and a couple of dedicated city officials -- can indeed make a difference in this World, and that fills my heart with glee in this Holiday Season.

It's all about Fair Play.

And special thanks to Mom, Dad & Sis for supporting me in my attempts to bring more Justice into this World.


UPDATE: The school board tonight disrespected its own counsel, adopting an apparently unreported case cited by a private counsel, Barbara Loughman, Vagalebre et al. v. SAU #47, C-97-JD (cited here and apparently unreported in this instance where it is cited without a reporter number as well) even though Attorney Bennett cited about 15 reported cases -- most of them more recent -- in his well-reasoned opinion. Alderman Teeboom and I spoke out against it, and the Telegraph will likely feature a story on it in a few hours. Then we discussed our options in approaching the ACLU. Here is what the New Hampshire Clair Ebel said in the front page Sunday paper on 9 Dec:
Claire Ebel, executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union for the last 25 years, said she doesn’t see the liability argument as an excuse for censorship. "When you set up a public forum, you are bound to allow the public access to that forum."

PS: Remember, the 2000 Doyle/case is right on point.

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