Thursday, July 29, 2010

UPDATE: Towns Can't Be Party in First Amendment Open Meetings Law Challenge

The Reeves County Courthouse located at 31.424...Image via Wikipedia
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas Judge Robert Junell ruled this week that four municipalities cannot be party to a lawsuit brought by elected officials challenging the Texas Open Meeting Law [Tex. Govt. Code Sec. 551.001(3)] on First Amendment grounds. (See "TUOL" posts 2/4/10,  12/15/09.)

The court held the issue underlying the lawsuit involves individual rights, so the towns of Alpine, Rockport, Wichita Falls and Pflugerville cannot be parties to the suit against Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott. The Open Meeting Act bars a quorum of elected officials from discussing public issues in public or private and subjects violators to fines and possible jail time, except for seven instances in which the officials may meet in executive session  Fifteen elected officials claim the Act infringes on their First Amendment rights.

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