NEFAC REPORT | July 2017
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The New England First Amendment Coalition can now be found at, a new web address that better reflects the organization and its commonly used acronym. The previous domain,, will continue to be active during the transition. [...]


This seventh annual institute will be held from Oct. 29-31 at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass.  The New England First Amendment Coalition provides the three-day investigative journalism workshop each year to 25 journalists working within the region. The institute is provided to these journalism fellows at no cost and features many of the country's elite investigative reporters, editors and media attorneys.  

The New England First Amendment Coalition recently wrote to Gov. Gina Raimondo encouraging her to sign a bill protecting student journalism in the state. House Bill 5550 would prevent schools from retaliating against student journalists for reporting controversial topics. The bill is a "commonsense attempt to restore some reasonable boundaries to the oversight of journalism in colleges and schools," wrote NEFAC and fellow First Amendment advocates.  [...] 

Additional Coverage
NEFAC's Robert Bertsche discusses the impact of a tweet by President Trump showing the president outside a wrestling ring pummeling a man in a business suit and with a CNN logo over his face.  [...] 

The New England First Amendment Coalition recently renewed its call for immediate access to civil court documents in the Ninth Circuit, arguing in an amicus brief that such access allows the public to "engage in meaningful discussion and debate about pending lawsuits." NEFAC joined 26 news organizations and media advocates in the brief drafted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and filed in Courthouse News Service v. Planet.   [...] 

Additional Coverage

NEFAC, the ACLU of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Press Association recently wrote to Gov. Gina Raimondo: "On the table are a bill proposed by the Attorney General identical to the one you vetoed last year, the constitutional alternative you submitted, or, we understand, a 'compromise' bill based on one introduced by Governor Baker in Massachusetts . . . [W]e are writing to urge you to stay the course and call for passage of your legislation."  [...] 

The New England First Amendment Coalition recently asked Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to sign a bill that would provide the public more time to be notified about municipality meetings and would require minutes of those meetings to be posted online. House Bill 6323 excludes weekends and holidays from the calculation of time required for advanced notice of meetings. It also requires municipalities to post their minutes online, as is currently required of state public bodies.  [...] 

By Tatiana Tway The nonprofit, nonpartisan Knight First Amendment Institute recently asked President Trump to unblock the accounts of Twitter users who post comments critical of him on his personal Twitter page. If Trump refuses to unblock the users, the institute has threatened to file a lawsuit on First Amendment grounds. If the lawsuit proceeds, two questions will arise: Does a Twitter account constitute a public forum? And if so, what does this mean - not just for the president, but for other public officials and agencies, including many in New England who use social media accounts?  [...] 

Additional Coverage

By Colman M. HermanA year ago last June, I was interested in getting the backstory regarding New England Patriot's owner Robert Kraft's efforts to build a soccer stadium on the former Bayside Expo Center property on Columbia Point in Dorchester, Mass., owned by the University of Massachusetts. So I made a public records request for the relevant communications.  [...] 

By Scott Dolan / Kelli Whitlock Burton of Waldoboro, Maine, asked Gov. Paul LePage a tough question this month: Why did he blame the media for his own false statement about going on vacation as the threat of government shutdown loomed? Gov. LePage responded to Burton with the delete button. He censored her question from his official verified Facebook page. He then took his censorship a step further by blocking her from ever commenting again on the forum he created specifically for communicating with his constituents.  [...] 

Additional Coverage
By Zachary Carlton The New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that police dashboard camera footage should be released under the state's public records law in most circumstances, a decision that states grappling with similar access issues ought to consider. The laws on releasing police video - most often taken with dashboard or body cameras - in New England states vary. In Maine, for example, police claim broad discretion over whether videos are released.  [...] 

Additional Coverage
FILE FREE FOI REQUEST     CT     MA     ME     NH     RI     VT   
            State of the First Amendment, Fourth Estate
            Trump Administration, Transparency
            Surveillance, Social Media Gag Orders

            NEFAC News and  Blog Posts
            Gov. LePage, Media Relations
            Open Meetings

            NEFAC News and Blog Posts
            Hate Speech, First Amendment
            Immigration Data, Transparency
            Trump Commission, Public Records
            Text Messages, Open Government

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

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