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Court Lets Town Prohibit |Taxpayers From Speaking

BOSTON (CN) - The 1st Circuit rejected the First Amendment arguments of property owners who were not allowed to speak at a town meeting in Egremont, Mass., because they are not registered to vote.

Miriam and Thomas Curnin sought a preliminary injunction mandating that they be allowed to speak at Egremont's town meeting because the meeting is a designated public forum and they own property and pay taxes.

"The Curnins are not registered to vote in Egremont and therefore are not town meeting legislators," Judge Lynch wrote. "The First Amendment does not give non-legislators the right to speak at meetings of deliberating legislative bodies, regardless of whether they own property or pay taxes."

The circuit also rejected the Curnins' contention that Egremont engaged in viewpoint discrimination and violated their free-speech rights by refusing to let them speak, even though they are not members of the small town in western Massachusetts. See ruling.

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