Blog of Rights

Free Speech at the Airport: The Government Can't Selectively Silence Viewpoints

Free Speech at the Airport: The Government Can't Selectively Silence Viewpoints

By Sarah Roberts, Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 11:30am

On Wednesday, the ACLU and NAACP filed a lawsuit against Philadelphia for violating the First Amendment when it refused to accept an NAACP ad in the city's airport.

Aerial view of the U.S. Patent Office building; Image source: Cliff/Flickr

Is the "Patent Happy" Patent Office Violating the First Amendment?

By Sandra S. Park, Staff Attorney, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 2:43pm

Last April, during the Supreme Court oral arguments in our case challenging patents on human genes, Justice Kagan remarked, "The PTO seems very patent happy." Her comment, and the unanimous decision invalidating gene patents, clearly expressed the…

Rebooting Net Neutrality

Rebooting Net Neutrality

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:33pm

The Federal Communications Commission has taken the first step in rebooting the net neutrality rules. Today's announcement by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler follows a major D.C. Circuit decision this year, which struck down the existing rules requiring that…

Police Harassment of Photographers Remains a Problem

Police Harassment of Photographers Remains a Problem

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:31pm

It’s been almost two years since we posted our ”Know Your Rights” Guide for Photographers, began calling attention to the problem of police harassment of photographers (including through this video), and began blogging about the issue. And several years before that, our affiliates around the country had already begun filing what have become numerous lawsuits on the issue.

It’s also been nearly two years since the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that the right to film police officers is protected by the First Amendment and that, moreover, that principle is so “fundamental and virtually self-evident” that it should have been known to the police even before the court’s ruling. That ruling was only the most prominent—courts around the country have been pretty much unanimous in finding such a right.

Yet the problem persists.

As Carlos Miller documents on his invaluable site Photography is Not a Crime, incidents of police harassment of photographers (and worse) continue to take place around the country on a daily or near-daily basis.

Why is it so hard for police officers to learn the law? We have seen settlements in some cities in which police department management has sent clear messages to their officers instructing them on the law, but in many cities, not enough has been done to train officers and/or enforce requirements that they abide by the Constitution.

As citizens prepare to gather this Fourth of July for rallies to restore the Fourth Amendment, let’s hope that this First Amendment right is respected as well.

James Watson, Discoverer of DNA:  Patenting Human Genes Is “Lunacy”

James Watson, Discoverer of DNA: Patenting Human Genes Is “Lunacy”

By Sandra S. Park, Staff Attorney, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 12:11pm

Recently, Dr. James Watson filed an amicus brief opposing gene patents in our lawsuit challenging the patents on two human genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Dr. Watson, along with Francis Crick, identified DNA’s ability…

Private Cameras Will Hurt Privacy - But is There a Solution?

Private Cameras Will Hurt Privacy - But is There a Solution?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:09am

The ACLU has long opposed the spread of government video surveillance in American public life. We published this piece, The Four Problems With Public Video Surveillance, way back in February 2002 for example, and we had been saying similar things long…

Beyond Bradley Manning: The Government Has Made Its Point (UPDATED)

Beyond Bradley Manning: The Government Has Made Its Point (UPDATED)

By Ben Wizner, Director, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:44am

UPDATE (8/21/13): Bradley Manning was sentenced by a military judge today to 35 years in prison. In response, the ACLU’s Ben Wizner said:

When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than…

School Promises In Settlement To Stop Removing Library Books For 'Advocacy Of Homosexuality'

School Promises In Settlement To Stop Removing Library Books For 'Advocacy Of Homosexuality'

By Joshua Block, LGBT Project at 4:49pm

Last year, Davis School District in Utah removed a children’s book about a family with two moms...

Ready to Occupy? What You Need to Know about H.R. 347, the "Criminalizing Protest" Law

Ready to Occupy? What You Need to Know about H.R. 347, the "Criminalizing Protest" Law

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:35am

Occupy, NATO and the party conventions are all coming up this year. Know your rights under the newly signed protest law.