in Houston, Texas
City officials in Texas take open meetings challenge to Supreme Court
Tuesday, Nov 06, 2012, 10:20AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Jimmy Stewart

You knew they would. We said they would. The Texas city officials who continue to insist the Texas Open Meetings Act is unconstitutional are going to the Supreme Court.

William McKamie, one of the attorneys representing the group we fondly refer to as the Furtive Fifteen, told the Amarillo Globe-News the case belonged in the hands of the “guardians of the First Amendment.”

There is no guarantee the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case, and from the rulings in every lower court, as faithfully reported for more than a year-and-a-half  by your Texas Watchdog, the case more appropriately belongs in Sunday night’s recycling.

The courts have consistently upheld a 37-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Junell.

To recap once again, knowing full well there are 15 people in Texas who never tire of the story, city officials from across the state filed suit in 2009 contending the Texas Open Meetings Act restricted what they could say in public, violating their First Amendment rights.

In late September the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion that the Open Meetings Act is written to insure the public’s business will be done in public. Not exactly what the Furtives had in mind.

Former Texas Solicitor General James Ho, who represented the state when the suit was originally filed, told the Globe-News what mostly everyone but the Furtives and their lawyers are well aware of.

“Every court in the country to have ever faced a First Amendment challenge to an Open Meetings Act law has rejected the challenge and upheld the law,” Ho said.

Should it happen again, expect the Furtives to huddle up with their attorney, take in another viewing of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and then file a request to start all over again in District Court.

As Jefferson Smith said, just before passing out on a bed of telegraph wires, “Somebody’ll listen to me, sss...”

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

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Photo of Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," the 1939 classic directed by Frank Capra.

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