Do you have a First Amendment right not to audibly say your name and address to speak at a Wake County school board meeting?
That's the contention made by the ACLU of North Carolina in a letter sent this week to the school board. In the letter, Katherine Lewis Parker, the group's legal director, writes that having to to say your name and address out loud could put speakers in fear of being retaliated against for their views.
"We believe that requiring individuals to audibly state their names and addresses in order to be permitted to speak at their own school board meetings is a form of censorship of the speaker's message based on content, in violation of the First Amendment," Parker writes.
Parker adds that they don't believe saying your name and address out loud during the public comment period is required under state law. She tells board members "we strongly urge you to abandon this requirement."
Most of the speakers at the recent meetings have been critics of the new board majority. The ACLU is more likely to be in sympathy with those speakers.
Also as part of the letter, the ACLU wants a list of people who’ve signed up to speak at school board meetings since Dec. 1 and a list of people who have up signed up to serve on community advisory committees.
But the biggest request in the letter is one asking for all e-mails between and among current school board members from Oct. 1 through the present that are related to school board business. The ACLU is asking for messages from both the school district and personal e-mail addresses for board members.
The ACLU would likely have a hard time getting the messages from the new board members before they took office on Dec. 1. Their school district e-mail addresses weren't activated until they were sworn in.
Some critcs of the new board have complained about how they met together before they took office. The new members have defended it by saying they weren't subject to the Open Meetings Law before they took office.