Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union


Free Speech

Court Cases

Court cases to protect Rhode Islanders' freedom of speech are among the Affiliate's most numerous. Our volunteer attorneys fight tirelessly to protect the right to petition and protest and to be free from censorship.

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During the 2012 session, the General Assembly passed ACLU-drafted free speech bills ensuring citizens the right to criticize their elected officials in public newspapers and repealing laws that subjected an individual who lied about their age on a social networking profile or forwarded a satirical e-mail to another to arrest and jail time.

In 2011, the RI ACLU lobbied against an internet subpoena law that gives police the unilateral authority to issue these subpoenas for just about any computer-related crime, including misdemeanor offenses such as “cyberharassment.” The introduction of these new crimes has significant First Amendment concerns.

In 2009, the Affiliate lobbied against legislation that violate first amendment rights--cyberstalking legislation and a bill that would limit the right to strike.

Free Speech In the News

March 25, 2013 - Court Rules that Providence Police Illegally Barred Protester from Leafleting

March 18, 2013 - ACLU Issues Statement on Disciplining of Students Based on Their Tweets

March 11, 2013 - RI ACLU Report Finds Prevalent Internet Censorship in Public Schools

March 1, 2013 - Judge Rules that Retaliation Lawsuit Against Department of Corrections Can Proceed

July 23, 2012 - Rhode Island ACLU Asks South Kingstown Town Council to Revise Its Town Council Meeting Policies

July 5, 2012 - Governor Signs Law Protecting Media from Suits for Political Advertising

November 9, 2011 - ACLU Opposes Polling Place Ban on Political Buttons

October 5, 2011 - ACLU Objects to Proposal to Ban Signs at City Council Meetings

March 7, 2010 - North Kingstown Political Sign Case Resolved

October 20, 2010 - ACLU Challenges North Kingstown Political Sign Ordinance on Behalf of Congressional Candidate

November 4, 2009 - ACLU Calls on Pawtucket to Allow Sexuality Education Center to Open

September 10, 2009 - ACLU of Massachusetts Petitions Court for Release of Richard Hatch, Jailed For Speaking to the Media

August 24, 2009 - ACLU Settles Warwick Political Sign Ordinance Challenge

August 20, 2009 - ACLU Condemns Jailing of Richard Hatch for Speaking to the Media

July 28, 2009 - Family Court Order Restricting Free Speech Rights on the Internet is Dismissed

July 22, 2009 -- ACLU Challenges Family Court Order Restricting Free Speech Rights on the Internet

June 11, 2009 -- ACLU Calls on Providence Mayor to Withdraw “Protest Registration Forms”

April 21, 2009 -- ACLU Files Brief in Irons Case; Criticizes Position of Ethics Commission

March 20, 2009 -- RI ACLU Testifies Against Government Oversight of Private Youth Sports Organizations

February 3, 2009 -- Suit Filed Over Restrictive State Ballot Access Law

November 25, 2008 -- Settlement Reached in Political Sign Case

October 14, 2008 -- Restraining Order Issued Against West Warwick Political Sign Ordinance

October 9, 2008 -- ACLU Challenges West Warwick Political Sign Ordinance And Its Selective Enforcement Against Local Critic

August 5, 2008 -- Court Strikes Down Law Used To Remove Candidate's Political Signs

February, 1, 2008 --  ACLU Files Court Brief In Support Of Attorney General's Right To Speak Out In Lead Paint Case

September 25, 2007-- ACLU Settles Suit Against Rhode Island College for Censoring Reproductive Rights Sign Display

August 6, 2007 -- Lawsuit Challenges Town's Removal of Congressional Candidate's Political Signs

February 6, 2007-- ACLU Calls Rhode Island College Position That It Is Not Subject to the Constitution "Shocking"

January 19, 2007 -- Commissioner of Education Overturns Ban of Student Yearbook Photo

December 5, 2006 -- In Victory for Free Speech, Slapp Suit is Dismissed

December 4, 2006 -- ACLU Files Free Speech Suit Against Rhode Island College for Censoring Reproductive Rights Sign Display

November 1, 2006 -- Document Confirms that RI Peace Protest Was Entered in Federal Terrorism  Database

June 14, 2006 -- ACLU Sues Pentagon to Uncover Surveillance of Local Peace Groups

May 8, 2006 -- ACLU Challenges Political Canvassing Restrictions in East Greenwich

February 2, 2006 -- ACLU Responds to Secret Service Investigation of Student Essay

February 1, 2006 -- ACLU of Rhode Island Seeks Pentagon Files on   Peace Groups

December 22, 2005 -- Contempt Motion Filed Against Anthony Fire District Chief

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Thiswww.riaclu.org is the website of the Rhode Island Affiliate, ACLU and the ACLU Foundation of Rhode Island. 

Learn more about the distinction between these two components of the RI ACLU.