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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, October 3, 2012

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in a lawsuit seeking to uphold the Seattle Middle East Awareness Campaign’s free speech rights on Metro buses. It is when we are faced with speech which is upsetting to some people that support of the First Amendment is most important.

News Release, Published: 
Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Seattle’s park permitting law gives officials too much arbitrary discretion in granting or denying applications. It needs to be changed to meet constitutional standards.   

Published: 
Friday, August 31, 2012
Labor issues were much on the minds of the small group of people who began meeting in Seattle in 1920 to discuss civil liberties violations in Washington state. After all, this was the year after the famous (or infamous, depending on one’s politics) five-day Seattle General Strike, the first general strike by labor unions in an American city.
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The ACLU-WA is appealing its lawsuit seeking to have Sound Transit run a paid ad by Working Washington touting the importance of good jobs at SeaTac. “ When a public agency operates an advertising program open to a wide variety of messages, individual government officials should not be left to decide subjectively what is ‘controversial.’

News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
The ACLU of Washington has decided not to appeal the April 10, 2012 ruling by the U.S. District Court in Spokane against library patrons’ challenge of the Internet filtering policy of a regional library system. While the ACLU supports the American Library Association’s position that public libraries should not filter Internet content for patrons, the current facts in the case do not support an effective appeal.
News Release, Published: 
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The ACLU of Washington has decided not to appeal the April 10, 2012 ruling by the U.S. District Court in Spokane against library patrons’ challenge of the Internet filtering policy of a regional library system. While the ACLU supports the American Library Association’s position that public libraries should not filter Internet content for patrons, the current facts in the case do not support an effective appeal.
News Release, Published: 
Friday, May 4, 2012
The ACLU-WA has joined the legal team representing Working Washington in its lawsuit challenging Sound Transit’s refusal to run an ad promoting good jobs for low-income workers at Sea-Tac Airport. A government agency that operates an advertising program open to a wide variety of messages cannot just leave it to the discretion of individual government officials to decide subjectively what is “controversial.”
Published: 
Thursday, April 12, 2012
The proposals didn’t live up to constitutional standards in several ways. The ACLU-WA testified about their constitutional infirmities amid a parade of faculty members and students who roasted them at a public hearing.
News Release, Published: 
Thursday, November 3, 2011
The ACLU-WA is appealing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in its lawsuit for the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign challenging King County’s cancellation of the group’s paid bus ad. The suit reminds us that it is when we are faced with controversial speech, speech that is upsetting to some people, that support of the First Amendment is most important.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, October 24, 2011

 

Oral argument is being held on Oct. 25 in an ACLU lawsuit defending the rights of adults to access information on the Internet on public library computers. The suit challenges a central Washington library system’s filtering policy that hampers adults in researching school assignments, locating businesses and organizations, and doing personal reading on lawful subjects. 

 

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