After coming under fire from some residents and civil rights groups, Williamson County commissioners removed a controversial rule requiring a dress code in their meetings.
The rule, approved in October, required audience members to dress in “attire suitable for professional or business engagements.”
Some civil rights groups and attorneys cried foul, saying the dress code, and another that prohibits “insulting language,” could prohibit people from attending court and open the door for commissioners to subjectively decide violations.
Commissioners didn’t discuss the ban on insulting language during their meeting this morning, but afterward, County Judge Dan A. Gattis said the court probably won’t remove the rule, saying commissioners had been “pretty liberal” with interpreting it.
Some Williamson County residents who had spoken out against the dress code in months past, such as Jane Van Praag of Bartlett, said they were satisfied with the court’s action today.
However, a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union said she still has concerns over the ban on insulting language.
“We’re pleased in the change in the dress code, but we’d like to have seen them go one step further and strike the insulting language, because it’s so vague,” said Rebecca Bernhardt, ACLU’s director of policy development. “It could suppress somebody from talking, or somebody would be cautious to speak.”
Commissioners also asked county officials to look into the costs and feasibility of posting video recordings of court meetings on the county’s Web site.
1 down, 1 to go.