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Congress shall make 
no law respecting an establishment of religion, 
or prohibiting the free 
exercise thereof; or 
abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; 
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, 
and to petition the 
Government for a 
redress of grievances.


2017 MAJOR 

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"Previously, the same senator, Sen. Jeanette White, proposed similar legislation and I think the problem was there was not as much of an organized effort," Evans said. "The key thing is to bring more voices into the conversation." These voices include student, law, education, journalism and civic advocates as well as the formal support of the Vermont Press Association, the Vermont Journalism Education Association and the New England First Amendment Coalition.

There's a method to the madness in putting papers and flyers in peoples driveways. It's a marketing method that's been used for decades but for homeowners it can also be a headache. However, there's also groups like the New England First Amendment Coalition that said it would restrict free speech and block the delivery of free newspapers.

A hearing on a proposed ordinance to address "Mass Outdoor Deliveries" to residents was continued Tuesday by the City Council's Ordinance Committee so First Amendment issues could be addressed. Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan said she and other members of the ordinance panel are working with legal counsel to tune the ordinance in a way that addresses concerns raised by The Providence Journal and by freedom of speech advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island and the New England First Amendment Coalition.

Journal Reporter, Former Columnist Join NEFAC Board | Providence Journal 12.7.16 A Providence Journal reporter and a former Journal columnist will join The New England First Amendment Coalition board, which promotes greater understanding of the right to free speech and freedom of the press nationally.

Washington Post Media Columnist Wins New England Prize | Associated Press 11.1.16 The New England First Amendment Coalition says Margaret Sullivan will be presented with its annual Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award on Feb. 24, 2017. NEFAC says Sullivan was recognized for her past work as public editor at The New York Times and her efforts at the Post to champion access to information, media intimidation and news organizations' roles as truth tellers.

Local Publisher Joins NEFAC Board | Caledonian Record 10.15.16 Joining NEFAC's board of directors are Caledonian Record Publisher Todd Smith, Boston Globe Senior Deputy Managing Editor Jennifer Peter, and University of Connecticut journalism professor and Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Mike Stanton.

Voters Can Now Take Ballot Selfies in New Hampshire | Fortune 9.29.16 Both the New England First Amendment Coalition and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press also filed amicus briefs, saying that "the issue of voter intimidation was overblown in this case," according to the Times. "There isn't much evidence, if any at all, that this kind of activity is actually occurring," Justin Silverman, the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, told the Times.

'Ballot Selfies' Get Federal Court Blessing | CNN 9.29.16 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Keene Sentinel and the New England First Amendment Coalition also filed briefs in opposition to the law.

Appeals Court Overturns Ban on Selfies in Voting Booths | The Wall Street Journal 9.28.16 A coalition that included the social media company Snapchat Inc., the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the New England First Amendment Coalition filed briefs in support of the New Hampshire voters who sued in 2014 to challenge the ban.

Court Overturns New Hampshire Ban on Selfies (and Snapchat) in Voting Booths | The New York Times 9.28.16 Two other organizations, the New England First Amendment Coalition and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, also filed amicus briefs and said that the issue of voter intimidation was overblown in this case. "There isn't much evidence, if any at all, that this kind of activity is actually occurring," Justin Silverman, the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, told The Times in April.

We welcome contributions 
to the NEFAC Report from journalists,lawyers, academics 
or other advocates of 
government transparency. If 
you have something to add 
to the conversation, please let 
us know. Your stories, experiences and commentaries have broad appeal and value. Please email submissions to [email protected]


 NEFAC REPORT | January 2017  
Regional/National    CT     MA     ME     NH     RI     VT 

Program Materials

Speakers include NEFAC's Peter J. Caruso, an Andover-based media attorney; Michael Morisy of MuckRock; Maya Shaffer, co-founder of The Bay State Examiner; Todd Wallack, a reporter at The Boston Globe; and Gavi Wolfe, legislative director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. The program is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at J.J. Foley's Cafe, 117 East Berkeley Street in Boston's South End. The discussion is open to the public, but seating is limited and RSVP required. RSVP here. The event will also be live-streamed on the SPJ New England Facebook page. [...]

Letter to Maine SJC

The amendments would, among other things, classify all inventories, accountings, death certificates, birth certificates and causes of death as confidential and make them available only to parties in a probate proceeding. By doing so, the public's ability to learn about its government would be unnecessarily limited, explained Justin Silverman, NEFAC's executive director, in a Jan. 25 letter to the Maine SJC. [...]

Jan. 3 Testimony of NEFAC, ACLU and RI Press Association

"The ordinance unfairly targets certain First Amendment-protected speech without adequately addressing the littering problem it intends to solve," according to written testimony provided by NEFAC, the Rhode Island Press Association and the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island. "While well-intended, this type of ordinance has been ruled unconstitutional in municipalities across the country, and Providence need look no further than other cities in Rhode Island for examples of more reasonable alternatives." [...]

Dec. 28 Amici Brief

To be determined is whether FOIA requires the disclosure of booking photos of publicly named, federal indictees who have already appeared in court. The Sixth Circuit found that the release of mugshots could cause embarrassment to those pictured and could be withheld under the law's exemption for unwarranted invasions of privacy. NEFAC and its fellow amici argued that those pictured have no privacy right in the release of their photo and even if they did those rights would be outweighed by the public's right to know. [...]

Steven Brown | ACLU of Rhode Island

This should be a happy Access to Public Records Act story, but - spoiler alert - it's not.
Valley Breeze reporter Ethan Shorey filed an APRA complaint with the Rhode Island Attorney General when the City of Pawtucket refused to provide him a list of vacant and abandoned properties it routinely shared with members of the City Council. Three weeks ago, the Attorney General's office ruled that the document needed to be handed over. So why is this ruling a loss for open government instead of a victory? [...]

David A. Logan | Roger Williams University School of Law

Among President-elect Donald Trump's many ill-informed campaign statements was that he was "going to open up libel laws." Where to begin? First, libel law was, and remains, state law. Second, while federal legislation does impact pockets of libel law (most notably, the Communications Decency Act protects websites from liability for merely hosting defamatory statements posted by third parties), the primary reason why politicians have trouble winning libel actions is not federal statutes but rather the First Amendment. [...]

Other FOI and First Amendment News
            Executive Office, Transparency

            New Public Records Law
New Hampshire

            Ballot Selfies, Open Government
            Testimony of Right to Know NH 
            Protest Buffer Zones, First Amendment
Rhode Island

            Norwich, Public Record Violations
            Student Journalism