II. “Particularly Controversial or Unpopular Entities”

“It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something many people find at least reasonable. But the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive. That was true when the Nazis marched in Skokie. It remains true today.”

ACLU Statement, August 2000


Now that I’ve gone through a less-than-concise legal history of the First Amendment in the 20th Century, let’s talk about an organization that has made its own impact on the popular understanding of free speech and assembly in the United States: the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU. Read More »

I. “A Question of Proximity and Degree”

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

– The First Amendment to the US Constitution


The fundamental freedoms of speech, assembly, and association have been enshrined in our Constitution since the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791, and were expanded to include all Americans with the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment and its key ‘equal protection’ clause in 1868. Since then, there have been many legal cases that have expanded upon or conversely, limited, the speech, assembly, and association rights recognized under the First Amendment.Read More »