Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union


Free Speech
Court Cases Over the Years

Freedom From Censorship

Censorship comes in many forms, but it is an evil which the ACLU has vigorously fought to oppose since its founding. Below are some of the First Amendment censorship cases in which the Affiliate has been involved over the years:

1975: Driver v. Helms

Class action suit against various officials of the CIA, FBI and Post Office for opening of first-class mail to foreign countries without a court-authorized warrant.

1978: Wisner v. Ricci

Successful federal court suit permitting the display of an art exhibit that had been raided by Providence police.

1986: Irish Subcommittee of R.I. Heritage Commission v. R.I. Heritage Commission

Successful federal lawsuit against the banning of an Irish group from Heritage Day Festival because of the group’s political nature.

1988: United States v. Providence Journal

Amicus brief in U.S. Supreme Court in support of newspaper’s right to have published an article in violation of a “prior restraint” order issued by a court.

1988: Secretary of Labor v. General Dynamics

Challenge to an administrative gag order barring employees in a safety violations case from discussing the court proceedings in public; the court lifted the gag order.

1989: Kass v. Newton

Successful federal suit challenging a state law barring persons from publicizing complaints against public officials filed with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission.

1990: Atlantic Beach Casino v. Morenzoni

Successful federal lawsuit on behalf of nightclub threatened with revocation of its entertainment license after booking the rap group “2 Live Crew.”

1995: Cirelli v. Town of Johnston

Successful federal lawsuit challenging school officials’ refusal to allow a high school teacher to videotape safety violations at the school, or to release the videotapes to third parties without permission.

1998: Providence Firefighters Local #799 v. Partington

Successful federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a fire department order barring employees from speaking to the media without approval of the fire chief.

2001: Multnomah County Public Library v. USA

Federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a federal law requiring libraries receiving federal funds to install blocking software on all their Internet access terminals.

2001: RI Brotherhood of Correctional Officers v. RI Airport Corporation

Favorably settled federal lawsuit challenging the airport’s censorship of an issue-oriented advertisement on the grounds that it was “political” and “negative.”

2003: Carlow v. Mruk

Federal lawsuit challenging a “gag order” issued by a Coventry Fire District Chief against two firefighters after they publicly expressed fire department-related concerns about school safety.

2004: Laffey v. Begin

“Friend of the court” brief challenging a Board of Elections’ ruling that the hosting of a radio talk show by Cranston’s Mayor constituted an illegal campaign contribution under state election law.

2007: Women's Studies Organization of Rhode Island College v. Rhode Island College

Federal lawsuit challenging a college’s censorship of a campus sign display sponsored by a student women’s rights group.

2009: Martin v. Langlois

Successful representation of a person who was barred by a judge from posting on Facebook any information relating to a Family Court case involving her brother.

See Other Highlighted Free Speech Cases:

Return to: Recent Free Speech Cases

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