Press Coverage

NEFAC receives considerable press coverage each year for its consistent advocacy of freedom of information and First Amendment concerns. Below are links to stories we’ve appeared in during the current year. Coverage from previous years can be seen here: 20172016201520142013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

Billerica Neighbor’s Word May Be Offensive, But Lawsuit Would Be ‘Challenge’ | Lowell Sun 1.16.18

Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, also used a neighbor eyesore as an example. If a neighbor’s unattractive political signs make it difficult for an abutter to sell their home, the neighbor with the signs is protected by the First Amendment, Silverman said. “Government officials can’t tell that person to keep quiet,” he said. “That would really undermine the whole point of the First Amendment.”

Details of Investigation Into Alleged Misconduct Under Wraps | The Essex Reporter 1.10.18

That’s a “disturbing” justification for secrecy, said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, a Massachusetts-based group that fights for public access to government. Silverman said the trustees’ primary responsibility should be to constituents, who have a right to know whether their public employees, whose salaries they pay, are performing jobs appropriately. The village has spent $3,250 on the personnel matter so far, a cost that will increase once it receives all legal invoices. “When there’s misconduct, we need to know about it,” he said. . . . Silverman, the First Amendment attorney, said there’s no way to trust an investigative process if the public doesn’t know how officials conducted it. He said officials not only need to be upfront about the allegations, but also how they respond to them. That will allow residents to judge if the response was appropriate and the investigation was conducted correctly — without favoritism or any other questionable behavior. “We’re not able to do that if we’re kept in the dark about some very basic parts of the investigation like what was alleged, or even more broadly, what policy we are dealing with,” Silverman said. Such secrecy strains the public’s trust, he added, because most people instinctively assume government is hiding something. At that point, people are left to guess.

Groton Resident Elected NEFAC President | The Bulletin 1.9.18

Karen Bordeleau, of Groton, recently was elected president of the New England First Amendment Coalition. Bordeleau is a retired executive editor of The Providence Journal. She now teaches journalism in the U.S. and abroad. She has served as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes in 2015 and 2016. Bordeleau is past president of the New England AP News Executives Association and the New England Society of Newspaper Editors.

In Billerica, a War of Words Over Sal’s Pizza Project | Lowell Sun 1.5.18

The First Amendment protects offensive speech, according to Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. Even if a word offends some people, an individual is allowed to write it on his/her property. The person crosses the line when the language incites violence, Silverman said. “But if it’s merely offensive, the First Amendment protects that type of speech,” he said. “We want to be able to speak our minds without the government telling us we can’t. “It may be hard to tolerate and we may not all agree with it, but it’s all protected by the First Amendment,” Silverman added.