Welter 2022

Weltner Freedom of Information Celebration


The Georgia First Amendment Foundation’s 21st Charles L. Weltner Freedom of Information Celebration drew a crowd at the Emory Conference Center in Atlanta on Oct. 26.

We honored state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver as our 2023 Charles L. Weltner Freedom of Information Award honoree. About 140 attendees celebrated Oliver’s legislative service in furtherance of government transparency and accountability. Over nearly four decades as an elected official, she has been a stalwart protector of Georgians’ right to know and to exercise their free speech rights. In her keynote speech, Oliver shared stories of her public service, talked about the priorities that have shaped her career so far and previewed what’s still to come.

We also gave our Open Government Hero award to the Georgia Library Media Association for their work pushing back against censorship in our schools. Nan Brown, advocacy co-coordinator for GLMA, took the podium to describe the challenges facing educators, students and parents, and she warned about legislative proposals that could further curb student access to a wide variety of books.

We also honored one of our own. We paid tribute to Georgia First Amendment Foundation board member Peter Canfield with our Founder’s Award — recognition of his 29 years of service to the foundation’s mission and to increasing government transparency in Georgia.

>>> See the evening in pictures, documented by photographer Krys Alex.
>>> Take a look at the event program showcasing our event sponsors and featuring a Mike Luckovich cartoon created just for the occasion.
>>> Watch a video tribute to Rep. Oliver, created by Dale Russell in partnership with FOX5 Atlanta-TV.
>>> Check out news coverage of the event.

About the Award

In the spirit of the late Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles L. Weltner, the annual Weltner Freedom of Information Award honors a person or group whose work has significantly improved freedom of information in Georgia. Justice Weltner was an unyielding champion of government transparency. His final opinion for the Supreme Court of Georgia in Davis et al v. City of Macon (1992) captured his commitment to First Amendment principles:

“This is the last appeal in which I will participate as a member of the Supreme Court of Georgia… Over the past decade, as I see it, our court has breathed life into some old words that have lain dormant within our constitution for most of their century-old existence. The words are: ‘Public officers are the trustees and servants of the people and are at all times amenable to them.’(Constitution of Georgia of 1983, Art. I, Sec. II, Par. I.)

“We have established that this is no empty phrase, but an obligation that is enforceable in a court of law. Public men and women, above all others, must be of good faith. Neither facile excuse nor clever dissimulation can serve in the stead of duty — faithfully performed. Because public men and women are amenable ‘at all times’ to the people, they must conduct the public’s business out in the open.”



If you would like to nominate someone for our Weltner Award, email us at info@gfaf.org.