Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published June 25, 2014 at 6:04 AM | Page modified June 25, 2014 at 6:40 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Judge lifts New Mexico village's ban on criticism

A federal judge came down hard on a New Mexico village after officials tried to ban residents from saying anything negative at Council meetings.


Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
Looks like they should spend a wee bit more time teaching people in New Mexico about the Bill of Rights. MORE
Just more of the corporate trickle down. The philosophy in workplace for last 10 years or so has been no one is... MORE

advertising

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —

A federal judge came down hard on a New Mexico village after officials tried to ban residents from saying anything negative at Council meetings.

U.S. District Judge James O. Browning issued an injunction on Monday finding that the village of Ruidoso's rule or policy barring speakers from being critical is "an unconstitutional burden on free speech," the Albuquerque Journal reports (http://goo.gl/BbVwN2).

Under the village rules, a speaker could praise personnel, staff or the village Council, or could make a neutral comment, but couldn't voice criticism.

In an 89-page opinion, Browning granted summary judgment to lawyer William Griffin, who sued after the Council refused his request to speak at a meeting.

Browning said limits can be placed on time and topic, but not on the speaker's opinion.

Greg Williams, president-elect of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said the public has an interest in having meetings run in an orderly fashion but said Browning's opinion shows that "a policy that says you can't be critical is improper."

"You can block topics, but not viewpoints, and negative is a viewpoint," Williams said. "From here on out, they can't enforce it."

Nothing in New Mexico law requires a body to allow the public to speak, although the law requires that meetings be open, the opinion notes.

The ruling is the second federal opinion in New Mexico this year regarding limiting speech at public meetings.

In late March, Chief U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo ruled against the Albuquerque Public Schools board's decision to expel Charles "Ched" MacQuigg, a frequent speaker who was extolling the benefits of a particular program.

Board members said they took the action because MacQuigg would shout out during board meetings, hover over administrators and once donned an elephant mask that made employees and members of the public feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

___

Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►