Free Speech Icon

Free Speech

The right to express yourself regardless of the popularity your views is basic to a democratic society. Throughout its history, the ACLU has met challenges from officials who cite reasons old and new to restrict this right. We recognize that if one person can be silenced, all of us are at risk.

This guide covers the legal protections you have while protesting or otherwise exercising your free speech rights in public places. Although some of the legal principles are firmly established, as with many areas of law, free speech law is complex and continually developing. 

Topic Resources

News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
The ACLU calls upon the Port of Seattle to review its policies and practices regarding use of force at peaceful protests to ensure that they do not violate fundamental rights.
Published: 
Friday, October 21, 2016
Schools must refrain from trampling the free-speech rights of students, but if that’s all they do, their work is incomplete. Rather than approach student protests as something simply to be tolerated, schools should embrace the teachable moments they present.

Know Your Rights Guide: Protests

Document, Published: 
Friday, August 5, 2016
This guide covers the legal protections you have while protesting or otherwise exercising your free speech rights in public places. Although some of the legal principles are firmly established, as with many areas of law, free speech law is complex and continually developing. 
Published: 
Friday, July 22, 2016
The State Supreme Court has found that Lakewood’s law banning panhandling in certain areas violates free speech rights. The ruling is a vindication of the rights of homeless people.
Published: 
Friday, January 8, 2016
The ACLU of Washington has filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Washington Supreme Court to strike down a Lakewood ordinance that unconstitutionally infringes on freedom of speech.

Pages