Free Speech

The very reason for the First Amendment is to make the people of this country free to think, speak, write and worship as they wish, not as the Government commands." -- Justice Hugo L. Black

Free Speech Resources

Free Speech (PDF)

Students' Free Speech Rights in Public Schools (PDF)

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Defending this fundamental right of free expression is a central theme of The Rutherford Institute’s work because we believe that all other liberties spring forth from this right.

The First Amendment guarantees all Americans the opportunity to freely express themselves. This fundamental freedom includes the right to distribute literature and discuss a multitude of views—even views distasteful to most people. It also protects the right of the people to engage in lawful picketing and the right to peaceably assemble. It is critical that a free society value and honor a free marketplace of ideas, a diversity of opinion, and free expression. Without free expression, no democratic society would be possible.

It is for these reasons that The Rutherford Institute is dedicated to preserving these fundamental rights for all Americans. The Institute responds to hundreds of complaints of free speech violations each year. From environmental activists peaceably protesting on public property to preachers relaying their message in a public forum, The Rutherford Institute believes that all people, regardless of their personal beliefs, are entitled to speak freely.

Our Recent Work in Free Speech

Rutherford Institute Urges Alabama Sheriff's Office to Resume Lawful Display of 'Blessed Are the Peacemakers' Decals on Police Vehicles, Offers Assistance

Virginia Police Insist That Activist Was Not Under Arrest Even Though He Was Held at Gun Point by Police, Handcuffed and Taken to the Police Station

Rutherford Institute Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Prohibit Unions From Requiring Public Employees to Support Political Activities With Which They Disagree

First Amendment Setback: Federal Appeals Court Upholds 60-Year-old Ban on Expressive Activity on U.S. Supreme Court Plaza as ‘Reasonable’

Rutherford Institute Appeals to U.S. Supreme Court on Behalf of Marine Who Was Targeted by FBI, Secret Service & Arrested for Criticizing Gov’t on Facebook

Rutherford Institute Files First Amendment Lawsuit Against City Officials and Police for Violating Free Speech Rights of Street Preachers

Rutherford Institute Warns Greene County Board of Supervisors Against Muzzling Speech During Open Comment Periods at Board Meetings

Rutherford Institute Sues California Police for Threatening Man Who Was Peacefully Displaying a 'John 3:16' Religious Sign in Front of S.F. Giants Ballpark

Commentary on Free Speech Issues

Sheep Led to the Slaughter: The Muzzling of Free Speech in America

The Emergence of Orwellian Newspeak and the Death of Free Speech

Free Speech, Facebook and the NSA: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

An Unbearable and Choking Hell: The Loss of Our Freedoms in the Wake of 9/11

Free Speech, RIP: A Relic of the American Past

Voter ID Laws: Silencing the American People

Criminalizing Free Speech: Is This What Democracy Looks Like?

Has the First Amendment Become an Exercise in Futility?

Bill of Rights Day: Are Our Freedoms in Jeopardy?

Speak Out: America Is a Free Speech Forum