NRD Board member sues district over free speech violations

Oct. 17, 2023, 12:16 p.m. ·

Temple vs Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District
Temple vs Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District

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A board member of a natural resource district based in Norfolk has filed a federal lawsuit against the rest of the elected body, claiming they violated her First Amendment rights.

Melissa Temple claims the district brought illegal sanctions against her as part of a punishment for criticizing other board members.

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District has been in turmoil throughout the summer after Temple reportedly called out another director for allegedly making demeaning and sexist comments about her publicly and privately.

After she aired her concerns in an email, the board voted 10 to three to sanction Temple. The action blocks her from participating in sub-committees, and she cannot obtain routine reimbursements for her travel expenses.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday by the University of Nebraska First Amendment Law Clinic, Temple argues the Board of Natural Resource District is punishing her for "engaging in protected speech and diminishing her ability to participate in policy discussions.”

At the time, the board member Temple criticized claimed she had damaged his good name.