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

  • Dec, 31, 2018: ACLU Files Brief in Support of Foxy Lady Keeping Entertainment License Pending Court Review
  • Dec, 04, 2018: Groups Urge Repeal of Central Falls Curfew Ordinance
  • Nov, 20, 2018: ACLU Raises Concerns Over RIPTA Attempt to Ban Journalist from Recording Meeting

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Free Speech Related Court Cases

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
2018: Richer v. N. Smithfield Police Department
Category: Active Case    Due Process    Police Practices    Right to Petition & Protest    

About This Case:
This is a federal lawsuit on behalf of a North Smithfield resident, challenging the police department’s refusal to remove from its files a note falsely claiming that he is “dangerous,” “psychologically unstable,” and has numerous weapons at his house. Police officials have acknowledged that they have no basis for the claims contained in the note, which was uncovered while the ACLU was litigating another pending lawsuit on behalf of the resident, Jason Richer.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in October 2018.

ACLU Cooperating Attorneys:
Thomas W. Lyons, Rhiannon S. Huffman

Supporting Documents