ACLU History: Taking a Stand for Free Speech in Skokie

September 1, 2010
In 1978, the ACLU took a controversial stand for free speech by defending a neo-Nazi group that wanted to march through the Chicago suburb of Skokie , where many Holocaust survivors lived. The notoriety of the case caused some ACLU members to resign, but to many others the case has come to represent the ACLU's unwavering commitment to principle. In fact, many of the laws the ACLU cited to defend the group's right to free speech and assembly were the same laws it had invoked during the Civil Rights era, when Southern cities tried to shut down civil rights marches with similar claims about the violence and disruption the protests would cause. Although the ACLU prevailed in its free speech arguments, the neo-Nazi group never marched through Skokie, instead agreeing to stage a rally at Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago.


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