Freedom of Speech

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.

PFAW Foundation and Allies Appeal Secret Arrest Case to Supreme Court

Constitutional and Civil Liberties Groups Ask High Court to Review Justice Department’s Refusal to Release Detainee Information

New Report Details Attacks on Civil Liberties and on Civil Rights Protections

Under the direction of Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Department of Justice has undermined the constitutional rights of all Americans as it has prosecuted a war on terrorism since the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to a new report released today by People For the American Way Foundation. At the same time, Ashcroft has continued to press his ideology into practice at the Justice Department, reversing the department’s position in civil rights cases, launching a campaign to threaten the independence of federal judges and second-guessing prosecutors on death penalty cases.

Nathan Lane Begins Off-Broadway Run as Blacklisted Hollywood Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo

A new theater piece based on the letters of legendary screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo opened an off-Broadway run on September 4, with Nathan Lane starring as Trumbo. "TRUMBO" is being produced with assistance from People For the American Way.

New Legislation Will Counter Civil Liberties Dangers of Patriot Act

Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) yesterday introduced the Protecting the Rights of Individuals (PRI) Act, a bill that would serve as the first broad-based legislative response to the USA Patriot Act passed by Congress in the weeks after September 11, 2001. The bill, which is endorsed by People For the American Way and enjoys support from other groups across the ideological spectrum, could curtail some of the most draconian aspects of the Justice Department’s anti-terrorism work. Few of these efforts have been demonstrated as effective in the fight against terrorism, serving mostly to endanger the privacy and chill the free speech rights of ordinary, innocent Americans.

PFAW Foundation Joins With Unlikely Allies in Brief Against Unauthorized, Unconstitutional Padilla Detention

Executive Branch Has No Power to Detain Citizens Indefinitely Without Explicit Congressional Authorization

PFAW Joins Senator Wyden in Unveiling Bill To Monitor Government Use of Personal Information

People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas joined Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and other leaders from a broad coalition of civil liberties and privacy organizations to support new legislation Wyden has authored to strengthen legal protections for personal information against government abuse.

Supreme Court Decision: Internet Ruling Damages Rights of Library Users

The Supreme Court today narrowed the protection of free speech on the internet and in America’s libraries, endorsing internet filters as a tool for the government to mandate decisions about what is available in a public library.

Appeals Court Upholds Arrest and Detention Secrecy

This ruling allows the Department of Justice to bury these secret arrests even deeper. Now the public is denied access even to the names of attorneys representing detainees. Indeed, this ruling takes us closer to authorizing the government to use secret arrests and detentions on a broad range of criminal suspects — or just outspoken critics. The repercussions could be disastrous.

Flag Desecration Amendment: Making Dissent a Criminal Act

A resolution authorizing a “flag desecration” amendment is expected to reach the floor of the House of Representatives today. The amendment would for the first time write into the Constitution an exception to the First Amendment’s guarantee that Congress “make no law … abridging the freedom of speech…”

Hall of Fame Uses Baseball as Weapon Against Political Dissent

PFAW President and lifelong baseball fan Ralph G. Neas sent a letter calling on Baseball Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey to reconsider his decision to cancel a celebration of the 15th anniversary of “Bull Durham” because of the political activism of two of its stars. “Baseball is one of the great American traditions,” Neas wrote. “But an even greater and longer American tradition is the right of free speech.”

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