Find a list of your saved stories here

Judge lifts New Mexico village's ban on criticism


Save Story

Save stories to read later


Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — 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

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Most recent U.S. stories

Related topics

U.S.
The Associated Press

    STAY IN THE KNOW

    Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast