Freedom of Speech

Dramatic, Star-Studded Reading of Constitution

Rare 1787 copy of Constitution, early Bills of Rights to be available for viewing

New York, NY - On the evening of September 1st, 2004, People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) will sponsor a reading of the U.S. Constitution, free to the public, in the historic Great Hall of Cooper Union. Some of the country's leading figures from the worlds of film, art, politics, theater, music and sports will participate in reading portions of our founding document.

Supreme Court Affirms Injunction Against Internet Censorship

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a preliminary injunction against the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), a 1998 law that imposes stiff criminal and civil penalties -- fines as high as $50,000 per day and imprisonment for up to six months -- for Web content that is deemed “harmful to minors.”

Supreme Court Overturns Key Parts of Bush Detention Policy, Affirms Rule of Law and Courts' Role as Check on Exec Power

Today the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Bush Administration’s assertions that it has the right to indefinitely detain American citizens it deems “enemy combatants” without meaningful due process and that individuals incarcerated in the American military installation in Guantanamo have no access to U.S. Courts. The cases ruled on today were a critical test of the federal courts’ role in upholding the constitutional rights of individual citizens and the rule of law against the powers of the President and the executive branch.

Right Wing Continues Assault on Dissent

A right-wing political group on Thursday urged the Federal Election Commission to prohibit commercials for Michael Moore’s film “Fahrenheit 9/11” featuring President Bush from being broadcast in the 30 days before the Republican National Convention or the 60 days before the election. On the same day that Citizens United filed its complaint, FEC commissioners in a separate case involving ads for a documentary adopted an advisory opinion that raises concerns about how broadly the commission will interpret legal restrictions on campaign advertising.

Playing Politics With the Flag

The proposed flag amendment is before Congress again, and this time it is very close to getting the needed votes. Should it be adopted, this amendment would be the first to make illegal some forms of free expression. Increasing pressure from pro-amendment lobbyists eager to exploit Americans’ patriotism during wartime will make the vote in the Senate razor thin.

Fax your Senators now!

Selective Prosecution Against Greenpeace Thrown Out of Court

In a victory for free speech, a federal judge dismissed charges against Greenpeace for allegedly violating an antique law of the sea, last used 113 years ago. The case was seen by many as an attempt to selectively prosecute Greenpeace for disagreeing with Bush administration policies.

The Bush Administration Vs. The Constitution

PFAW Foundation Releases New Report on Detentions. Right-Wing Groups Join People For the American Way Foundation in Padilla Case.

Undermining the Bill of Rights: The Bush Administration Detention Policy

Last week the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments concerning the Executive Branch's right to unilaterally strip citizens of core constitutional rights. People For the American Way Foundation believes the government's "enemy combatants" and detention policies -- the heart of the case before the high court -- violate fundamental principles enshrined in our Constitution, such as the separation of powers and due process of law, and actually threaten progress in the war on terror and America's campaign for greater freedom and democracy around the world. Read the powerful new PFAWF report on these policies.

Free Speech Challenge to Vast New FCC Restrictions Filed

A group of individual and nonprofit free speech advocates and broadcast corporations,* including entertainers Margaret Cho and Penn & Teller, today filed a formal petition urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reverse its recent decisions to grant itself far greater authority to control and punish broadcast communications that the agency deems offensive.

PFAW Foundation Files Joint Brief With Rutherford Institute, Human Rights First to Defend Constitutional Due Process Protections

In an amicus curiae brief filed in the case Rumsfeld v. Padilla with the U.S. Supreme Court, People For the American Way Foundation supports the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s decision stating that President Bush cannot indefinitely detain American citizens seized on American soil without Congressional authorization. PFAWF filed this brief in coalition with Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) and the right wing Rutherford Institute, a group that usually opposes PFAWF on religious liberty cases and other issues.

Free Speech Victory In Virginia Internet Case

In a significant victory for free speech advocates, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has upheld a lower court ruling invalidating a Virginia law aimed at curbing speech on the Internet. People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) was co-counsel in the First Amendment case, and hailed the decision.

Senate Hearing: Waving the Flag, Not Saving It

Washington, DC – People For the American Way (PFAW) President Ralph G. Neas today condemned congressional efforts to revitalize a constitutional amendment to “protect the flag” as a cynical election-year ploy to divert public attention from pressing issues including the economy, weak job growth and a lack of funding for critical programs, including veterans’ health care.

“Waving the stars and stripes is a convenient distraction from tough issues. Platitudes and posturing are easier than real achievements for veterans and working American families,” said Neas.

Statement Of Ralph G. Neas on FEC Rulemaking

PFAW President Calls on FEC to Reject Unprecedented Restrictions on Free Speech, Advocacy

Public Interest Groups Challenge FEC Threat to Public Debate

An unprecedented collection of 324 national, state, and local environmental, civil rights, civil liberties, women’s rights, public health, social welfare, senior, religious, and social justice organizations today urged the Federal Election Commission to reject an FEC General Counsel draft advisory opinion that could severely restrict the ability of nonprofit organizations to communicate with the public about important policy issues. The FEC is scheduled to consider the opinion at its meeting this Thursday, February 5.

Appeals Court Rebukes Bush on Enemy Combatant

Agreeing with arguments put forward in an amicus brief filed by PFAW Foundation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected the Bush administration's astonishing claim that it can unilaterally hold an American citizen indefinitely without charge or legal recourse.

Selective Prosecution Against Dissenting Groups Would Set Devastating Precedent

Permitting the selective prosecution of a group like Greenpeace merely because the government disagrees with its point of view would set a devastating precedent. The rights of all Americans to speak freely would be endangered if certain viewpoints were singled out for prosecution or intimidation.

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