The Florida Supreme Court refused an appeal from a lower court ruling that says citizens have no right to participate at public meetings.

In 2009 two Pensacola residents filed suit against the Community Maritime Park Associate board because the board did not allow the public to speak at government meetings.

The “Sunshine” Law, Florida’s open government legislation, states that meetings must be “open to the public.” Previous court rulings concluded this gives citizens the right to be present at meetings, but not necessarily the right to give input.

Because the Supreme Court refused to review the case, the rulings of the lower courts are upheld.

The Pensacola News Journal reports:

“This will mean no Floridian has the right to speak to the County Commission, City Council, School Board, Water Management District or any other public body under the Sunshine Law,” said Pensacola attorney Sharon Barnett, who represented the plaintiffs in the case.

“For the first time in more than 40 years in Florida, the courts have declined to construe the law broadly in the public’s interest. This is a radical shift in Sunshine Law jurisprudence.”

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