ZACHARY: Governor should answer, not attack

DomeLight by Jim Zachary 

Every state lawmaker in Georgia should attend the Georgia First Amendment Foundation’s Legislative Breakfast Thursday morning. 

After all, who doesn’t support the First Amendment?

Who is opposed to the freedom of religion? 

Who has a problem with the freedom of speech? 

Who wants to silence an open, free and unfettered press? 

Who believes the public should not be able to peaceably assemble or petition the government? 

Who thinks the business of government should be concealed from the people? 

These are core principles of liberty and ideals every lawmaker should fully support. 

This Thursday, state legislators can show their interest in and support of the First Amendment. 

During the breakfast, elected officials, journalists, First Amendment lawyers and state lawmakers will discuss the implications that proposed legislation will have on basic First Amendment rights. 

Topics expected to be part of the conversations include limiting access to criminal records, state-imposed restrictions on the media, so-called “truth in taxation” transparency, private companies controlling access to public records and a handful of other proposals and issues that could erode the public’s right to know. 

These are important topics that every state lawmaker should be interested in and care about.

A very distinguished and highly qualified panel of presenters includes: 

— Tom Clyde, First Amendment attorney, Kilpatrick Townsend

— Commissioner Lisa Cupid, Cobb County Commission

— Sen. Jen Jordan, Georgia Senate

— Rep. Josh McLaurin, Georgia House of Representatives

— James Salzer, Statehouse journalist, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Peter Canfield, one the state’s top First Amendment attorneys with the Jones Day firm, will moderate the panel discussions. 

In addition to legislation to be taken up by the General Assembly, the panel will also spend time talking about the state’s first criminal conviction for an Open Records Act violation and the implications it will have to the way cities and counties handle public access moving forward. 

Lawmakers, or anyone for that matter, who wants to attend the event can register for it at: https://bit.ly/2Gbl4iN. The breakfast will begin 7:30 a.m. Thursday at the Georgia State University College of Law in downtown Atlanta. 

The Georgia First Amendment Foundation sponsors the legislative breakfast every year near the beginning of the legislative session and along with the Georgia State University College of Law chapters of the American Constitution Society and the Black Law Students Association, provides a unique opportunity for state lawmakers and the public to get more clarity around how the core values of the First Amendment apply to the very issues legislators will be facing during the session. 

CNHI Deputy National Editor Jim Zachary is the editor of the Valdosta Daily Times and president of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.

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