The ACLU of Connecticut protects the five freedoms of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — freedom of speech, assembly, association, petition and the press — but we’re called on most often to defend speech. Free speech is as American as apple pie, and it belongs to everyone: rich or poor, liberal or conservative, homeless or housed. The government cannot discriminate against people’s rights to speak based on how much money they have, where they rest their heads at night, or whether they are asking for money or directions to the nearest bus stop.
Free speech belongs to everyone, but America has often failed to protect the rights of people who have not typically held the reins of political power. Now, the free speech rights of people of color, women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and immigrants are under threat: the federal government harasses and spies on racial justice advocates, the president called for a reporter who criticized him to be fired, and Bridgeport police used recording equipment to intimidate protesters at a vigil for a boy who was killed by city police. The ACLU-CT is here to safeguard the right to peaceful protest, and to ensure the government doesn't rig the system to allow only the voices it agrees with to be heard.
In Connecticut, we have defended the free speech rights of Waterbury and Canterbury residents hoping to share their views at town meetings, the Libertarian and Green Parties of Connecticut, student athletes in Torrington, whistleblowers seeking to hold big banks accountable, Facebook users criticizing Governor Malloy, a dentist who sued when the Connecticut Department of Health told him to stop speaking out about mercury levels in tooth fillings, prisoners who were force-fed after political acts of protest, a Trinity College professor speaking out for racial justice on Facebook, and many more.