September 6, 2011 by ppjg
After reading the Federal Register notice (Sept. 6, 2011) announcing the next Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting in Arlington, VA, Oct. 13-14, 2011, it seems that the “Public Comment Procedures” as written here may be in violation of your First Amendment right to free speech.
The notice states that “Speakers must submit a written copy of their statement to the address listed in the ADDRESSES section above, or bring a written copy to the meeting.”
Why “must” you do this? It’s a public meeting and you don’t have to submit anything to have the right to speak at a public meeting. You can just tell them your name and tell them you want to speak. Period. The meeting will probably be recorded and the BLM could use the recording for transcription purposes, and any requested written comments should be voluntary. That is not what is stated in the Federal Register. Also, requiring that speakers submit a written copy of their statements could discourage some people (who don’t like to write) from speaking.
You also don’t have to “address the specific wild horse and burro related topics on the agenda.” This is a violation of your First Amendment right to free speech. You can talk about anything you want to talk about. If you want to get up and read “Little Bo Peep” for 3 minutes (or whatever time limit they set), you have the First Amendment right to do that. If the BLM only wants you to talk about topics on the agenda, and then controls the agenda, they could then possibly control the content of public comments, which might then be against your right to free speech.