Read the ACLJ's Position on Free Speech - 2004
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech." While the right to free speech is seemingly sacrosanct in our society, there are several areas in which the right is often minimized or distorted.
The right to free speech is most seriously threatened when the speech involves challenges to prevailing liberal ideology. For example, those who oppose abortion and seek to persuade others, especially women entering abortion mills, that abortion is wrong often have their free speech rights violated in ways that would be unthinkable if their speech involved other subjects. The "abortion distortion," as it has been so aptly named, refers to the disturbing tendency among liberal advocacy groups and many federal judges to undermine the free speech rights of abortion protestors. As Justice Scalia noted in his dissenting opinion in Hill v. Colorado, a case in which five Supreme Court Justices upheld speech restrictions against abortion protestors, the Court's First Amendment cases dealing with abortion protestors stands in "stark contrast" to the rest of its First Amendment jurisprudence.
"Speech regulation directed against the opponents of abortion enjoys the benefit of the "ad hoc nullification machine" that the Court has set in motion to push aside whatever doctrines of constitutional law stand in the way of that highly favored practice [abortion]. Having deprived abortion opponents of the political right to persuade the electorate that abortion should be restricted by law, the Court today continues and expands its assault upon their individual right to persuade women contemplating abortion that what they are doing is wrong."(1)
Another area where free speech rights are often cavalierly dismissed is speech opposing the radical homosexual agenda. Radical homosexual advocates, as well as other liberal advocacy groups continue to oppose the right of private organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America to express their belief that homosexual conduct is immoral. Notwithstanding the Supreme Court's decision in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, (2) upholding the Boy Scouts' First Amendment liberties, there is a continuing threat against the free speech rights of those who refuse to subscribe to the notion that homosexuality is an inborn trait that is morally neutral.
Finally, religious speech is often given second class status in the name of avoiding an Establishment Clause violation. Unfortunately, there are many who would extend greater First Amendment protection to those who engage in pornographic speech than to those who engage in religious speech.
The ACLJ is in the vanguard of the fight against these distortions of one our most precious freedoms. ACLJ attorneys work constantly to ensure that the right to free speech remains secure even when the speech concerns currently disfavored viewpoints on subjects like religion, abortion, and homosexual rights.