Free Speech Issues The ACLU of Rhode Island is Involved With - Court Cases, Legislation, News Releases

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Protecting Civil Liberties in Rhode Island for Over 50 Years

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Free Speech

Protecting the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment has always been in the forefront of the ACLU’s mission. The ACLU of Rhode Island was founded over 50 years ago largely in response to widespread government efforts to censor books, films, and theater.  Today, the ACLU routinely defends the right of citizens to exercise their freedom of speech, of the press, of association, and of petition and protest, no matter how unpopular their opinions may be.

Free Speech in the News

  • May, 07, 2019: ACLU Files 1st Amendment Suit Over State’s Discrimination Against Non-Fiction Authors
  • May, 06, 2019: ACLU Settles Suit over Selective Enforcement of Cranston Sign Ordinance
  • Mar, 14, 2019: Settlement Reached in Suit Against Woonsocket for Retaliating Against Domestic Violence Agency

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Free Speech Related Court Cases

2019: Association of RI Authors v. Savage
Category: Active Case    Free Speech    

About this Case:
This is a federal lawsuit challenging the RI Division of Taxation’s position that a sales tax exemption for Rhode Island authors applies only to works of fiction, and not to non-fiction - because non-fiction is not “creative and original.” The lawsuit argues that making such a distinction on the content of the work violates the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in May 2019.

Cooperating Attorney:
Lynette Labinger

Supporting Documents
2018: Foxy Lady v. City of Providence
Category: Active Case    Free Speech    

About this Case:
This is “friend of the court” brief filed in the R.I. Supreme Court, arguing that the Providence Board of Licenses’ revocation of the Foxy Lady’s entertainment license, and the failure to issue a stay of the decision pending full judicial review, violate the club’s First Amendment rights.  Our blog post on this ordeal can be found here (The Providence Board of Licenses Comes for the Foxy Lady).

Current Status:
On January 3, 2019, the RI Supreme Court decided to review the case (scheduled for April 2019) and ruled that the Foxy Lady could resume operations in the meantime.

Cooperating Attorney:
Jared Goldstein

Supporting Documents