First Amendment

FCC Should Resist Calls to Enhance Broadcast Censorship

FCC Should Resist Calls to Enhance Broadcast Censorship

By Sandra Fulton, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:51pm
In response to a call for comments regarding the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) enforcement of its broadcast indecency policies, the ACLU submitted comments last month arguing that the FCC's regulations have devolved into vague, overbroad, and arbitrarily enforced rules.
Banned Books Week: The Struggle Against Censorship Continues

Banned Books Week: The Struggle Against Censorship Continues

By Brian Hauss, Legal Fellow, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 11:32am

This week marks the 31st annual "Banned Books Week," the American Library Association's celebration of the freedom to read...

Businesses Do Not Have a License to Discriminate

Businesses Do Not Have a License to Discriminate

By Joshua Block, LGBT Project at 4:24pm

Yesterday, the ACLU and the ACLU of New Mexico filed an amicus brief in Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock, an important antidiscrimination case pending before the New Mexico Supreme Court. Elane Photography is a wedding photography studio that advertises…

Standing Up for the Rights of Students to Free Expression

Standing Up for the Rights of Students to Free Expression

By Mary Beth Tinker at 11:39am

I have zero tolerance for schools that punish students for exercising their First Amendment rights. Students like Wesley Teague, who joked about his school's athletic department and Kyron Birdine, who was suspended for mocking standardized tests, did…

Nothing to See Here! Censoring 'The Innocence of Muslims'

Nothing to See Here! Censoring 'The Innocence of Muslims'

By Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:32pm

It's likely you haven't escaped the roiling controversy generated by the film The Innocence of Muslims. This "film" has alternately been described as: a deliberate provocation of Muslims, a launching point for a conversation about free speech, a trigger…

"Ag-Gag" Not Just About Animal Welfare

"Ag-Gag" Not Just About Animal Welfare

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 9:54am

A story out of Utah this week neatly showcased the rising concerns among civil liberties and press freedom groups around so-called "ag-gag" laws, which, in various ways, make it illegal to document animal abuse on factory farms and other agricultural…

ACLU Defends Nonprofit Free Speech

ACLU Defends Nonprofit Free Speech

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Sandra Fulton, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:01pm

Political speech regulation remains an incredibly complex and contentious issue in our government, and there is plenty of legitimate concern about the recent influx of big, outside money in modern campaigns.

Those concerns, however, must be…

New Proposal Could Singlehandedly Cripple Free Speech Online

New Proposal Could Singlehandedly Cripple Free Speech Online

By Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project & Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:10pm

The Internet has evolved into a true marketplace for every idea – if you can think of it, you can find it on the web. That the online world has blossomed into this virtual town square teeming with diverse content is no accident. It is largely a creation…

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.

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…

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