Professor who Led Students to New Hampshire Supreme Court Honored with First Amendment Award
MANCHESTER, NH – Marianne Salcetti, PhD, is the 2020 recipient of the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications’ First Amendment Award. This Award, the 18th annual, honors New Hampshire individuals or groups who stand out in their defense of or their use of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Dr. Salcetti is an Assistant Professor at Keene State College, where she teaches in the Department of Journalism, Multimedia, and Public Relations. She offers curriculum content on the Right to Know Law. In 2017, as part of a class assignment, her students requested information from the City of Keene regarding restaurant inspections, underage drinking, and police discipline. After Keene refused repeated Right To Know requests, she and the students went to Cheshire County Superior Court, with Dr. Salcetti arguing their case. After losing their case in superior court, she and her students appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, aided by attorney Gregory V. Sullivan (who also represents the Nackey S. Loeb School), who volunteered his services. The Supreme Court heard the case last November and ruled in May, with Dr. Salcetti and her students winning their appeal, with all but one request decided in their favor.
Dr. Salcetti explains, “When all avenues to obtaining the documents closed, I thanked them for their commitment and explained the only recourse was for the six of us to file a lawsuit against the city of Keene and charge them with multiple violations of New Hampshire’s RSA 91-A, Right to Know law. Unanimously, the students agreed to file a lawsuit. And so, for the first time in more than 30 years of teaching, my class’s final exam session was in a courtroom. The students have told me this three-year battle for public documents taught them life lessons to advocate for themselves and always fight for citizens’ right to know the public’s business when they encounter resistance.”
She adds, “In these times, these young people and others like them are the future of the First Amendment. They did not seek this battle, but once confronted, they did not walk away. Their consciousness about why the First Amendment must always be defended is a resolute one and bodes well for the future of journalism and of citizens’ expectations about their government.”
Each year, a distinguished group of judges reviews First Amendment nominees submitted by the public to choose the recipient. This year’s Award judges were previous First Amendment recipient Mary DeWinkeleer, former executive editor of Foster’s Daily Democrat, Rod Doherty, Retired N.H. Supreme Court Justice Richard Galway and Attorney Gregory Sullivan of Malloy & Sullivan, LPC. Attorney Sullivan recused himself from the voting this year. First Amendment recipients receive a bronze eagle sculpture created by Mrs. Loeb and a $1,500 award.
In past years, the award was made at the annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Awards Event. Due to the pandemic, things will look a bit different this year. Instead, a new publication, F1RST THINGS F1RST, a collection of essays on the First Amendment in these times, will be published on October 18. A video tribute to Dr. Salcetti and the First Amendment will premiere on November 1 at loebschool.org.
The magazine and video presentation are sponsored by Eversource, CCA Global, The Brodsky Prize, AT&T, Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, St. Mary’s Bank, The McQuaid Family, AARP NH, Amokseag Beverages, Bellwether Community Credit Union, Bernstein Shur, Borislow Insurance , Business and Industry Association, Catholic Medical Center, Cross Insurance, Elliot Health System, Joyce and Daniel Levesque, Louis Karno & Company Communications, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Mayflower Advisors, Means of Production, LLC, Merchants Fleet, Northeast Delta Dental, Southern New Hampshire University, Wipfli, Wieczorek Insurance, Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C., NH Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, Jim and Kristy Merrill, Cathleen Schmidt, Jayme and Laura Simoes, and David and Sarah Tirrell-Wysocki. In-kind support for production and distribution was made by the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
For more information, visit www.loebschool.org or call 603-627-0005.
Executive Director, Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications