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School Board can limit duration of public speech at meeting

Several families who wanted to complain about the football coach's treatment of their sons secured a 5 minute slot on the monthly agenda for their lawyer to speak.  The following month, they attempted to secure another 5 minute slot, however, the Board refused them, concluding that the request was "repetitive."  The sued the Board, claiming that their sons had been denied a constitutional or civil right to participate in football.  Their case was dismissed; at which point the sued the Board claiming they had been denied the 1st and 14th Amendment rights of free speech at board meetings.  The Sixth Circuit wasted no time in dismissing their claim, as it concluded that the limitation on "repetitive" presentations during the public meeting was content neutral.  The case is Lowery, et al. v. Jefferson County Bd. of Educ., and it represents a small victory for all of us who have sat through interminable public meetings where a small group has repeatedly scolded the majority over a perceived slight or difference of opinion.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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