Cities File Lawsuit Against Open Meetings Act

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Four Texas cities, including Alpine, and 15 elected officials have filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to declare part of the Texas Open Meetings Act unconstitutional.

The suit, filed Monday in federal court in Pecos, contends that the act violates the First Amendment free speech rights of elected officials by preventing them from speaking in public or private on public issues.

The act prohibits a quorum of members of a governmental body from deliberating in secret. Violations are punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

However, the Austin American-Statesman reports the plaintiffs argue that some communication by a quorum of elected officials should be allowed outside of a posted meeting. Those would include e-mail or social media Web sites such as Facebook or Twitter.