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

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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

  • Nov, 20, 2018: ACLU Raises Concerns Over RIPTA Attempt to Ban Journalist from Recording Meeting
  • Oct, 08, 2018: ACLU of RI Calls on State Agency to Stop Blocking Twitter Users
  • Sep, 26, 2018: Lawsuit Challenges RI Court Rule Barring Non-Profit Legal Orgs from Assisting Non-Indigent Clients

View All Free Speech Related News Releases »

Free Speech Related Court Cases

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
2018: SouthCoast Fair Housing v. Saunders
Category: Active Case    Due Process    Free Speech    Right to Petition & Protest    

About This Case:
This is a federal lawsuit on behalf of SouthCoast Fair Housing against the RI Supreme Court over a court rule that is preventing the organization from providing legal help to victims of housing discrimination in RI. As the rule is currently written, non-profit organizations cannot obtain a license to practice law in the state unless they serve only “indigent” clients. This is despite the fact that the Court’s own rules recognize that it is not just the poor, but “sometimes persons who are not poor” who are unable to afford adequate legal assistance.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in September 2018.

ACLU Cooperating Attorneys:
Mark W. Freel and Jeffrey Ankrom

Supporting Documents