Blog of Rights

There Is No 5-Second Rule for the First Amendment, Ferguson

There Is No 5-Second Rule for the First Amendment, Ferguson

By Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:53am

Tear gas, rubber bullets, and assault weapons; free speech zones, gags, and press pens: This is the arsenal of the police state. Some of these tactics are physical. The other ones—all the more pernicious for their quiet coercion—impose a veil of silence over the actions of law enforcement. And each of these weapons has been unleashed on the people of Ferguson, Missouri, since the killing of Michael Brown.

Free Speech for Some Means Free Speech for None

Free Speech for Some Means Free Speech for None

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:44pm

In honor of Free Speech Week, let's take a moment to acknowledge the obvious. Free speech is incredibly, almost unbelievably important, especially in a democracy.

It can also be unpleasant, uncomfortable and even downright offensive. Which…

On Leak Prosecutions, Obama Takes it to 11. (Or Should We Say 526?)

On Leak Prosecutions, Obama Takes it to 11. (Or Should We Say 526?)

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:58pm

James Risen is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. He's also currently under subpoena, possibly facing jail time, because of his reporting.

Specifically, he's being investigated because of an article on a CIA ploy to hinder Iran's quest for…

Hidden Third Cameraman Proves Crucial in Nebraska Photographer-Abuse Case

Hidden Third Cameraman Proves Crucial in Nebraska Photographer-Abuse Case

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:36am

Take a look at the photograph above. It shows a former police officer in an orange jumpsuit making a court appearance to face a felony charge of evidence tampering, as well as misdemeanor obstruction and theft. I hope that police around the nation…

You Have Every Right to Snap That Picture

By Michael Cummings, New York Civil Liberties Union at 5:50pm

Snapping a picture of a federal building from public property is every photographer’s right. Unfortunately, in recent years, pointing a camera at federal building seems to magnetically attract suspicion from federal security officers.

The…

If the Government Gets Its Way, the Future Pablo Nerudas of the World Could Be Barred From the US

If the Government Gets Its Way, the Future Pablo Nerudas of the World Could Be Barred From the US

By Dror Ladin, ACLU National Security Project at 2:04pm

In a case currently pending before the Supreme Court, the government is arguing that courts should not be able to decide if the executive branch followed the law in denying a visa to a non-citizen seeking to enter the United States — even if the…

Anti-Backpage.com Bill Will Shut Down Free Speech

Anti-Backpage.com Bill Will Shut Down Free Speech

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Sandra Fulton, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:17pm

The House of Representatives is set to take up a bill this morning that would result in severe unintended consequences for free speech online. We are understandably concerned. The measure aims to target the deliberate commercial promotion of either…

Does the Government Want to Read Your Texts and Emails?

Does the Government Want to Read Your Texts and Emails?

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project & Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:45pm

Last week the Justice Department squandered an opportunity to reassure Americans that as technology advances our civil liberties will not be left behind. The Justice Department was called before Congress to say whether it should be permitted to…

Free Speech and "Cyber-bullying"

By James Tucker, Washington Legislative Office at 10:29am
In an earlier entry, I discussed some of the legislative challenges we faced in a series of online censorship bills introduced in Congress in 2007. So-called "cyber-bullying" is the most recent threat to online speech to come into the public vernacular.…

Censorship at the Smithsonian

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:58pm

Earlier this fall, "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" made waves when it opened at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery here in Washington. It was the first major museum exhibition to focus on the lives and works…