The goal of the New England First Amendment Coalition and its academic partner is to defend, promote and expand public access to government and the work it does. The coalition is a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of transparency in a democratic society. Its members include lawyers, journalists, historians, librarians and academicians, as well as private citizens and organizations whose core beliefs include the principles of the First Amendment.
The coalition aspires to advance and protect the five freedoms of the First Amendment, and the principle of the public’s right to know, in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. In collaboration with other like-minded advocacy organizations, NEFAC also seeks to advance understanding of the First Amendment across the nation and frredom of speech and press issues around the world.
NEFAC, in partnership with Northeastern University’s New England First Amendment Center, advances the cause of openness by:
- Educating journalists, private citizens, elected officials, government employees, civic groups and others on the workings of open government laws in the six New England states.
- Conducting awareness programs alerting the public to legislation or court rulings that threaten or erode open government. Endeavors would include the organization’s website, op-ed articles, public service announcements, letters to the editor, public speaking programs and other educational initiatives.
- Supporting legal action to combat barriers to public access to the workings of government.
- Offering expert testimony to legislative bodies considering modifications to open government laws.
- Giving support – organizational, financial and moral – to the six New England First Amendment Coalitions as needed.
- Conducting research that documents compliance with public access laws and explores the relationship between openness and robust civic life.
- Devising opportunities – such as surveys, audits and seminars – that heighten public awareness of the First Amendment and call attention to threats against the five freedoms the amendment guarantees.
- Awakening educators, and thereby students at all levels, to the First Amendment’s unique role in the conduct of American democracy.
Funding for NEFAC and the New England First Amendment Center comes from private citizens, news organizations, NEFAC’s officers and directors and foundations that share NEFAC’s passion for openness in government.