NEFAC REPORT | March 2018
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The New England First Amendment Coalition joined open government advocates throughout the country to celebrate the 14th annual Sunshine Week. The national campaign, from March 11-17, promotes dialogue about the importance of transparency and freedom of information. NEFAC sponsored events and condemned secrecy within the federal government. The coalition also wrote an op/ed and published blog posts to address transparency issues in each New England state. [...]


The discussions focused on the New Hampshire Right to Know Law and featured several of the state's leading experts on the First Amendment and government transparency. [...]
Jim Campbell | Maine Freedom of Information Coalition

NEFAC Commentary

The New England First Amendment Coalition joined open government advocates across the country to condemn actions taken by the federal executive branch and Congress to undermine the public's right to know. "Those in the highest levels of government have moved far beyond previous efforts to evade transparency, engaging in an unprecedented, systemic endeavor to undermine the basic norms of disclosure, accountability and truthfulness," according to a letter drafted by Open The Government on behalf of NEFAC and more than 30 other transparency proponents. [...]

After more than four decades without any major changes to the public records statute, the Massachusetts Legislature in 2016 reformed the law. The changes are both good (an attorney fee provision) and bad (longer response times). The most egregious part of the new law, however, is what didn't change. Massachusetts continues to be the only state in the country where the Legislature, judiciary and governor's office all claim to be exempt from the public records law. [...]

Other Sunshine Week Commentary

Area Colleges Hit, Miss in Access to Crime Logs | Telegram & Gazette 

Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said he sees a problem with public record laws, in general, with respect to "the inconsistency of which the law is actually followed." He said the infrequency of requests isn't an excuse for the institutions. [...]

NEFAC Press Coverage


The New England First Amendment Coalition and the Society of Professional Journalists strongly oppose an attempt by New Hampshire officials to force the disclosure of materials collected by a local journalist during a jailhouse interview last year. This decision by prosecutors is an affront to the First Amendment. It impedes the newsgathering process and improperly seeks to employ the Fourth Estate as an investigatory tool of the government.  [...]

Additional Coverage


Following the mass shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students across the country turned their anger into action. One way they did this was to walk out of their classrooms to protest the lack of action by political leaders to prevent gun violence. This demonstration raised many questions for students, parents and administrators.  [...]

The First Amendment has been pressed into action to protect everything from burning the American flag to unleashing corporate cash in campaigns.  But now the U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to employ the First Amendment to do something we can all feel good about - putting an end to extreme partisan gerrymandering.  [...]


House Bill 700 would allow state agencies and municipalities more time to post public meeting minutes around certain holidays, an accommodation NEFAC said is unnecessary. "At a time when minutes can be drafted on a laptop and uploaded remotely to a website at any hour, we believe - as did the state legislature - that five calendar days is sufficient," wrote Justin Silverman, NEFAC's executive director, in a letter to Sen. Jeanette White. [...]


While CBS' 60 Minutes was apparently deciding whether to use its March 25 broadcast to air an interview with "adult film star" Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Donald Trump and was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about it, the legal threats raised by Trump-affiliated lawyers were undoubtedly causing the network to experience a deep sense of déjà vu.  [...]


"Our coalition takes very seriously the privacy interests at stake with revenge pornography legislation," wrote Justin Silverman, NEFAC's executive director, in a March 27 letter to members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. "These interests, however, need to be protected in a way that does not infringe on the First Amendment rights provided by our Constitution." [...]


President Trump on several occasions expressed his dissatisfaction with U.S. libel laws, saying most recently that "our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace, and do not represent American values or American fairness." During his presidential campaign, Trump stated that, if elected, he would "open up our libel laws." Can he do that? [...]


Trump Administration, Secrecy
Twitter Blocks, First Amendment
'Fake News' and Media Literacy
Free Speech, Higher Education
Sandy Hook Records, Privacy
FOI Law Legislation

Gun Violence, School Walkouts
Sunshine Week
Reporter's Privilege
Right to Know Law, Ombudsman
Lottery Winners, Anonymity
Gun Violence, Student Walkouts
Political Speech

Amazon Proposal, APRA
Video Games and Porn Tax, First Amendment

Major Supporters and Contributors to the 
New England First Amendment Coalition this year include:

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