FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The New England First Amendment Coalition today joined a group of Massachusetts open government advocates to request that remote public access again be provided to Governor’s Council meetings.
The Governor’s Council is an elected body that, among other things, makes lifetime appointments to the state’s courts and votes on commutations. It announced earlier this month that it would no longer stream its hearings online despite doing so throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When remote access became a necessity in response to the pandemic, it did not merely preserve public bodies’ ability to operate; it also opened the door to civic engagement for members of the public and many people who had previously been shut out,” wrote NEFAC and organizations including the local chapters of Common Cause and the American Civil Liberties Union in a March 17 letter to the council.
In the letter, the groups explained that remote access allows civic engagement for those with disabilities, seniors with mobility issues, parents with young children, people with chronic medical conditions and others who are unable to attend meetings in person.
“Remote access is the latest instance of universal design — alongside curb cuts, elevators, closed captioning, audiobooks, and other features — that began as accommodations and expanded to universal popularity,” they wrote. “Like these innovations and others emerging during the pandemic, remote access to public meetings should become a permanent feature.”
NEFAC is the region’s leading advocate for the First Amendment and the public’s right to know about government. The coalition regularly writes and joins advocacy letters in cases involving First Amendment freedoms and the public’s right to know about government. All coalition briefs, advocacy letters and statements can be found here.
NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.
Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.
Leadership Circle donors include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, and the Robertson Foundation. Major Supporters include Boston University, WBUR-Boston, the Academy of New England Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, Genie Gannett for the First Amendment Museum, Linda Pizzuti Henry, Connecticut Public and GBH-Boston.