Protecting free speech means protecting a free press, the democratic process, diversity of thought, and so much more. The ACLU has worked since 1920 to ensure that freedom of speech is protected for everyone.
Freedom of speech, of the press, of association, of assembly and petition: this set of guarantees, protected by the First Amendment, comprises what we refer to as freedom of expression. The Supreme Court has written that this freedom is “the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom.” Without it, other fundamental rights, like the right to vote, would wither and die.
With new technologies come new challenges to freedom of speech. The ACLU believes in an uncensored Internet, a vast free-speech zone deserving the full protection of the First Amendment. We remain vigilant against laws or policies that create new decency restrictions for online content, limit minors’ access to information, or allow the unmasking of anonymous speakers without careful court scrutiny.
- 1920Since the 1920s, the ACLU has been involved in virtually all of the landmark speech cases to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
- 1997In a landmark 1997 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the ACLU’s argument that the Internet itself is a free-speech zone.