Barron v. KolendaAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the judgment of the superior court against Plaintiffs and directed the court to enter a judgment declaring the "public comment policy" of the town of Southborough unconstitutional,holding that the town's public comment policy violated rights protected by articles nineteen and sixteen of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.
At issue was the policy of the board of selectmen of Southborough that outlines the public comment portion of its meetings where town residents may address the board ("public comment policy"). Plaintiffs argued, among other claims, that the policy violated their constitutionally-protected right under article nineteen "to assemble, speak in a peaceable manner, and petition...town leaders for redress." The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the superior court's decision rejecting the argument that the town's public comment policy was unconstitutional, in violation of articles nineteen and sixteen, holding that the town's civil restraints on the content of speech at a public comment session in a public meeting were forbidden under both articles nineteen and sixteen.