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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Robert Martin and the First Amendment

During the June 13-14, 2009, discussion of the proposal to suspend the Council Corner editorials during election season, city council candidate Robert Martin read a prepared statement opposing the resolution. Remarkably, he suggested that to limit elected officials' taxpayer-funded communications with voters would be unconstitutional. Denying Mayor Longrie her newsletter column (she is the only incumbent who had not said she would voluntarily abstain from writing), he warned, was likely to bring a lengthy and expensive lawsuit against the city.

Here's video of his statement and the ensuing discussion:

The court case that Martin reads from concerns an alleged violation of the Texas Open Meetings Law. An article summarizing the decision explains that, "the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans (5th Cir.) held that elected officials have First Amendment rights to speak to each other in private. As a result, open meetings laws that prohibit private speech between elected officials have to pass stringent constitutional muster, the court said."

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