Freedom of Expression and Association

Democracy depends on the freedom of expression and association, and the ACLU defends these rights for everyone—especially those disproportionately affected by suppression and censorship, such as whistleblowers, reporters, photographers, activists, protesters, religious and racial minorities, the poor, artists, students and professors.

The ACLU of Massachusetts took legal action and won on behalf of #BlackLivesMatter protesters demanding an end to police brutality and racial bias in policing. We also continue to provide Know Your Rights resources for demonstrators and others involved in copwatch activities, building on our groundbreaking 2011 court victory that secured the right to record on-duty police officers.

We support the right to protest—and to do so without the chilling effects of surveillance. We detailed the Boston Police Department’s routine spying on First Amendment-protected activity in a 2012 report, Policing Dissent, released with the Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

We also support the right to take part in peaceful boycotts—activity the U.S. Supreme Court has held to be protected by the First Amendment. In 2017, we have raised concerns about a bill intended by its proponents to be used to deny state contracts to those who support the boycott/divest/sanction movement regarding Israel.

Fighting laws that essentially criminalize poverty, we sued on behalf of homeless residents in Worcester in 2013 and in Lowell the following year to challenge ordinances banning peaceful panhandling.

The national ACLU also proudly represents National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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