Freedom of Expression

English as a First Language

English as a First Language

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:40pm
Sigh. As if we don’t have enough divisiveness in this country, a familiar subset of Congressional Republicans are trotting out yet another discriminatory bill papered over with hollow rhetoric about “unity,” “commonality” and shared national vision, which will be the subject of a hearing in the House Constitution Subcommittee today. (Here’s the ACLU’s statement, which focuses mainly on the civil rights and immigration issues in the bill; I’m just covering the First Amendment in this post.)
New Government “Propaganda” Bill a Positive Step for First Amendment

New Government “Propaganda” Bill a Positive Step for First Amendment

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:58am
Throughout the country, many of us have rightly been long concerned about the danger of the government using taxpayer funds to covertly influence public opinion.  This issue came up again recently as part of this year’s defense authorization bill, which passed the House of Representatives on Friday.  Reps.
Legislating Catcalling Comes With Real Risks

Legislating Catcalling Comes With Real Risks

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:00am

The piece below was first published as part of the New York Times Room for Debate feature "Do We Need a Law Against Catcalling?" The debate used this conversation starter:

Hollaback!, an anti-street harassment organization, released…

"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…

International Organization Finds U.S. Violating the Rights of Protestors

International Organization Finds U.S. Violating the Rights of Protestors

By Allison Frankel, Criminal Law Reform Project, ACLU at 2:55pm

The right to peacefully assemble, enshrined both in the U.S. Constitution and international human rights law, is an intrinsic element of the democratic fabric of the United States. Yet according to a report released Friday by the Organization for Security…

I Like Ike

I Like Ike

By Aden Fine, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 8:09am

“I Like Ike” is one of the most well-known and catchiest political slogans of all time. According to a decision that was issued by a federal judge in Virginia a few days ago, however, the modern-day equivalent—saying that you "like"…

Fifty Shades of Censorship

Fifty Shades of Censorship

By Maria Kayanan, Associate Legal Director, ACLU of Florida at 4:35pm

This year marks the 30th anniversary of “Banned Books Week,” the American Library Association’s rousing celebration of free speech, and its condemnation of government shackling of library bookshelves across the nation. Free speech is a core mission of the ACLU: books are speech. They enrich us; they teach us; they entertain us; they confound us; and they challenge us. And sometimes, they make us uncomfortable. But there is no room on library shelves for censorship.

Appeals Court Overturns Decision on TheDirty.com in a Win For Free Speech

Appeals Court Overturns Decision on TheDirty.com in a Win For Free Speech

By Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:38pm

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision today in Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment, a case in which the ACLU filed an amicus brief alongside other organizations urging the Sixth Circuit to reverse a lower court’s decision holding a…

The $338,000 Internet Comment

The $338,000 Internet Comment

By Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:00am

(Updated below)

We’ve written before about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 — a federal law that protects the robust diversity of free speech we’ve come to know and love (and hate) on the Internet. Last night, the…

Shutting Down Cell Service During Protests: The Constitutional Dimension

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 8:19am

The Bay Area Rapid Transit System (“BART,” for short) has a serious public relations problem. BART Police have been involved in three fatal shootings of BART passengers in the past three years, including the Oscar Grant incident in 2009,…

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