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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.

Topic Resources

Published: 
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The democratizing effect of the Internet is arguably its greatest feature, resulting in a revolutionary explosion of free speech and expression. But this effect recently came under fire in Viacom v. YouTube, a case affecting the fundamental framework of how content is created, disseminated and stored on line. Thankfully, by ruling that YouTube was covered by the “safe harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a U.S. District Court might have just saved the Internet as we know it. Read more
Published: 
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Well, that settles it – government surveillance without suspicion is a costly endeavor. The case surrounding the false arrest of Phil Chinn –the Olympia activist targeted for surveillance based on his political associations – has come to a close. Unfortunately, a new ACLU report on political spying shows that coordinated efforts to target political activists for surveillance persist not only throughout Washington, but throughout the country.
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Standing up for consumer rights, the ACLU says that individuals have the right to read books, view films, and buy other items without the government keeping tabs on what they choose to read, watch, or purchase.
Published: 
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Like publishing ideas in books or newspapers, demonstrating in the streets has been one of the fundamental outlets for speech throughout our nation’s history.  The Supreme Court has long held that speech gets maximum protection in certain kinds of public places, like parks, sidewalks, and streets.  People with soapboxes need somewhere to put them, after all. In these public places, speech may be limited only for narrow and very specific reasons.  States are allowed, for example, to prohibit demonstrators from blocking access to buildings like hospitals or fire stations.  We allow the government to make and enforce laws designed to keep those vital public services operating, even when it might limit people’s right to demonstrate in certain areas.  Courts call these “time, place, and manner restrictions,” and as long as they meet certain criteria, they’re constitutional. Read more
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
The response of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to anti-war demonstrations on March 22, 2003, provides one more reminder of the City's need to have in place sensible crowd control policies for major events.
News Release, Published: 
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
A Q&A about walkouts, policy regarding absences, and other student political speech at public schools.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, January 11, 2010
As an organization dedicated to fostering free speech, the open exchange of ideas, and access to information, the American Civil Liberties Union urges you to consider closely the ways in which the merger of AT&T and Comcast could limit these liberties. There is a danger that if cable becomes the dominant provider of Internet connections, the Internet will come under the private control of companies that are unrestrained by competition or regulation.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, January 11, 2010
A brief overview of teachers' free speech rights.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, January 11, 2010
On Oct.23, 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle ruled that to retry Lt. Watada for court martial on three of the counts would violate his constitutional protect against being tried twice for the same crime; included was the count of attending a press conference. The judge also ruled that it would be up to a military court to determine whether Lt. Watada could be retried on two other counts involving alleged conduct unbecoming an officer.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, January 11, 2010
The ACLU of Washington urges President Stephen M. Jordan to reconsider the decision to cancel the scheduled April 5 campus appearance of guest speaker Ward Churchill due to concerns over security. Canceling the appearance makes Eastern Washington University complicit in a "heckler's veto," where any group of protesters that is big enough or violent enough can silence their outnumbered opponents.

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