A victory for transparency in Texas: Federal appeals court rules against city officials who claimed Texas Open Meetings Act impedes free speech


We here at Texas Watchdog are getting just a little bit wistful realizing there is only one court in the land left to smack around our very own Furtive Fifteen.

Those are the 15 city officials from across the Lone Star State who banded together to employ lots of lawyers with your tax dollars, occupy the precious time of judges and get the Texas Open Meetings Act tossed because it intrudes on their peculiar notions of secrecy in government.

Thankfully, the 15 have a perfect score: The Fabulous Furtives today extended their record when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found baseless their contention that the law requiring they keep public business public curtailed their freedom of speech and was, therefore, unconstitutional, the Austin American-Statesman is reporting.

The appeals court heard the snivell...their arguments in April, a little more than a year after U.S. District Judge Robert Junell luxuriated in a 37-page lambasting of their logic.

Echoing Junell, the appeals court ruled the Texas Open Meetings Act does pretty much the opposite of what the frank Furtives contend, broadening discussion of public business, increasing transparency and promoting trust in government.

As it has in every court so far, this repudiation will be taken by their counsel as a signal to push on to the last available venue, the Supreme Court.

There is no guarantee the High Court will decide to hear the case, but for our collective enjoyment may we remind the justices there is no mercy rule in our judicial system.

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

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Photo of 'judge hand with gavel' by flickr user s_falkow, used via a Creative Commons license.