Open meetings lawsuit to be heard by appeals court today; district court found the act did not suppress free speech as Texas local officials contended


Signaling their intention to go to court forever to withhold information from the public, lawyers for 15 city officials begin today trying to convince the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals the Texas Open Meetings Act violates their freedom of speech.

The officials from Alpine, Wichita Falls, Pflugerville, Sugar Land, Arlington, Heath, Rockport, Leon Valley, Whitesboro, Hurst and Bellmead filed suit in 2009 contending they conduct public business in terror of violating the law.

In March of 2011, U.S. District Judge Robert Junell took 37 pages to call their contention nonsense. Junell said the Open Meetings Act was not vague, or too broad, or suppressive of free speech.

Oh, and not in violation of the free speech guarantees in the First Amendment.

Which seemed to be an invitation to appeal today before a panel of three judges in Houston, according to an Associated Press story. Adverse judgements encourage these taxpayer-sponsored public servants.

A similar group of city officials first brought suit in 2006 ,and Junell delivered a similar ruling. The 5th Circuit panel in 2009, however, reversed Junell’s decision, but the case was dismissed because by that time most of the original plaintiffs were out of office.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of gavel by flickr user Joe Gratz, used via a Creative Commons license.