During the 2022 MACo Summer Conference, two expert attorneys provided best practices when faced with First Amendment audits.
Governments at every level are experiencing increasing episodes of individuals and organizations entering public facilities requesting immediate, unfettered access to public documents. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution offers great latitude to conduct oneself in this manner, but it does have its limits. Speakers at the “Freedom Accountants: The Bottomline on ‘First Amendment Audits'” evaluated these limits and provided invaluable advice to attendees.
Council Vice President Pruski introduced the topic of First Amendment audits and speakers Mark Weaver and Matt Peter. Mr. Weaver provided an overview of the constitutional law underpinning said audits and noted that governments cannot curb speech simply because it is offensive or misleading. County officials who infringe upon an individual’s First Amendment rights are subject to personal liability.
Whereas Mr. Weaver provided a broader view of First Amendment audits, Mr. Peter specifically focused on how counties should react should an auditor pay a visit. He played a video for attendees stressing the importance of remaining calm when faced with an antagonistic auditor.
- Mark Weaver, Esq., Partner, Isaac Wiles
- Matthew D. Peter, Esq., Senior Attorney, Local Government Insurance Trust
Moderator: The Honorable Andrew C. Pruski, Vice President, Anne Arundel County Council
The session was held on August 18, 2022, at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD.
More about MACo’s Summer Conference: