Once a public body provides an opportunity for members of the public to speak, rules for conducting the forum, public comment period or public hearing must be uniformly applied without content-based restrictions or other limitations prohibited under the First Amendment. MacQuigg v. The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education, In the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, Civ. No 12-1137-MCA-KBM, Order Granting Preliminary Injunction, April 8, 2014.
A public body cannot impose content-based restrictions on what is said during a public forum. For example, a rule that prohibits any comments critical of members of or actions taken by the public body is unconstitutional. A public body, however, can limit the amount of time that a citizen can speak. Griffin v. Bryant, In the U.S. Disgtrict Court for the District of New Mexico, No. 13-0799-JB/GBW,Memorandum and Order Adopting in Part Magistrate Judge’s Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition,
In a recent federal court decision, a judge determined that in some cases citizens have a right to wear a mask to a school board meeting as a form of symbolic speech when the mask is meant as a protest against the board’s actions. MacQuigg v. The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education.