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Free Speech

The right to express yourself regardless of the popularity your views is basic to a democratic society. Throughout its history, the ACLU has met challenges from officials who cite reasons old and new to restrict this right. We recognize that if one person can be silenced, all of us are at risk.

Topic Resources

News Release, Published: 
Monday, March 13, 2017
The Whatcom County prosecutor on Monday withdrew a search warrant obtained by the Whatcom County Sheriff Department that would have allowed a search of a Facebook account associated with a local group protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. 
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
The ACLU today filed a motion to quash a warrant issued to police to search a Facebook community page for a broad range of information about a Bellingham, Washington, group engaged in protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline and advocating for environmental justice.
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
The ACLU calls upon the Port of Seattle to review its policies and practices regarding use of force at peaceful protests to ensure that they do not violate fundamental rights.
Published: 
Friday, October 21, 2016
Schools must refrain from trampling the free-speech rights of students, but if that’s all they do, their work is incomplete. Rather than approach student protests as something simply to be tolerated, schools should embrace the teachable moments they present.

Know Your Rights Guide: Protests

Document, Published: 
Friday, August 5, 2016
This guide covers the legal protections you have while protesting or otherwise exercising your free speech rights in public places. Although some of the legal principles are firmly established, as with many areas of law, free speech law is complex and continually developing. 
Published: 
Friday, July 22, 2016
The State Supreme Court has found that Lakewood’s law banning panhandling in certain areas violates free speech rights. The ruling is a vindication of the rights of homeless people.

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