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)

See More Resources

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 to Request Rehearing Before Appeals Court in First Amendment Case of Street Preachers Arrested at Princeton Train Station

Rutherford Institute Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Strike Down Minn. Law Banning Political Expression on Clothing Worn at Polling Places

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

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Review First Amendment Case Over Minnesota Ban on Expressive T-Shirts, Buttons at Polling Places

Constitutional Attorney John W. Whitehead Speaks on ‘The State of the First Amendment on College Campuses’ at Univ. of Virginia Constitution Day Event

Rutherford Institute & ACLU Sue City for Discriminating Against Controversial 'Alt Right' Views by Blocking Protesters' Access to Park

Victory: Virginia Supreme Court Declares That Judges Who Spoke Out on Apolitical Matter of Public Concern Did Not Violate Ethics Rules

Rutherford Institute, ACLU Et Al. Call on Police to De-Escalate Use of Force, Adopt Less Confrontational Tactics in Dealing With Protesters

Commentary on Free Speech Issues

Tolerance Cuts Both Ways: Freedom for the Speech We Hate

Freedom for the Speech We Hate: The Legal Ins and Outs of the Right to Protest

Lynching Free Speech: The Intolerant State of America

Shame on the U.S. Supreme Court for Making a Mockery of the First Amendment

Dangerous Speech: Would the Founders Be Considered Domestic Extremists Today?

The Right to Tell the Government to Go to Hell: Free Speech in an Age of Government Bullies, Corporate Censors and Compliant Citizens

Fear of the Walking Dead: The American Police State Takes Aim

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