PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island (ACLU) is requesting that the gag order – issued for the settlement discussion in the pension case – be lifted now that a vote is underway for a possible settlement agreement, the organization announced on Monday.
In a letter given to Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter Friday, the ACLU said the “broadly written” order was issued to protect the mediation process and that it is “counter-productive” now that the vote is happening.
Steve Brown, Executive Director of ACLU of Rhode Island, said the those involved in the lawsuit are at a “distinct disadvantage,” saying that they “cannot hear directly from the individuals more knowledgeable on this ‘final offer’ settlement about what it includes and what it means.”
In a statement, Brown said: “Any gag order, however well intentioned, has significant consequences for the vitality of freedom of speech. It can erode trust in the judicial process, unfairly limit the public’s right to know and, as evidenced in this instance, unnecessarily generate widespread confusion.”
Brown urged Judge Taft-Carter to repeal the order so that the public’s right to know can be restored.
Retired Rhode Island public-sector employees voted on Monday at Twin River Casino, where they approved the proposed settlement. Voting by current workers will continue until the deadline on Friday.