It is probably no accident that freedom of speech is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The Constitution's framers believed that freedom of inquiry and free expression were the hallmarks of a democratic society. But historically, at times of national stress — real or imagined — First Amendment rights come under enormous pressure. During the Red Scare of the early 1920s, thousands were deported for their political views.
During the McCarthy period, the infamous blacklist ruined lives and careers. Today, the creators, producers and distributors of popular culture are being blamed for the nation's deep social problems. Calls for censorship threaten to erode free speech.
The First Amendment exists precisely to protect the most offensive and controversial speech from government suppression. The best way to counter obnoxious speech is with more speech. Persuasion, not coercion, is the solution.
February 2, 2015
“Cursing” and “Off-Color Language” Not Necessarily Child Abuse NJ Supreme Court Rules, Affirming ACLU-NJ Position
December 22, 2014
ACLU-NJ Wins Injunction in New Brunswick Ban on Begging
December 19, 2014
ACLU-NJ and Homeless Group Challenge New Brunswick’s Unconstitutional Ban on Begging
November 25, 2014
Removal of Trenton Mural Raises Concerns
October 31, 2014
Spooky Stuff at the ACLU-NJ
August 4, 2014
Justices side with ACLU-NJ that violent rap lyrics should not be used in criminal trial unless directly linked to crime itself
June 9, 2014
Gov. Chris Christie gets D+ in Civil Rights and Liberties from ACLU-NJ
May 30, 2014
Where Do the 12th Congressional District Candidates Stand on Civil Rights and Liberties Issues
May 2, 2014
ACLU-NJ Defends Free Speech Rights of NYU Law Students
April 9, 2014
ACLU-NJ Goes to NJ Supreme Court to Defend Rap Lyrics as Free Speech
- State v. Pomianek
A victim’s perception of what the defendant intended by their words is not enough to convict someone of bias intimidation.
- State v. Bessey
Animal rights activist tickets for violating ordinance that had been changed the day of the protest and which she was unaware of.
- Assessmentgate v. Montlcair Board of Education
Montclair Board of Education subpoenaed Google for information that would identify anonymous blogger.
- State v. Skinner
Rap lyrics are a form of artistic expression that are protected under the First Amendment and the New Jersey Constitution and trial court judges should adopt guidelines to guide courts when considering whether or not to admit fictional, artistic expression as evidence.
- In Re: The Honorable Leon Kendall
Judge held in criminal contempt for statements made in written opinion.
- Ramos v. Flowers
Filmmaker arrested for filming a documentary on gang activity.
- ACLU-NJ v. Wyckoff Township
Town tries to limit the amount of time a person can keep a political lawn sign on their property.
- Occupy Trenton v. Zawacki
State infringed upon the free speech rights of Occupy Trenton protesters.
- Mazdabrook v. Khan
Homeowner not allowed to display political signs on his lawn.
- Derek Fenton v. New Jersey Transit Corporation
State employee terminated for burning a Koran at a protest that he participated in on his day off.
Can't find what you are looking for? Look in our Free Speech & Expression Archives.