Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)—Article 19 states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".
Article 19 of the UDHR states that "everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice". The version of Article 19 in the ICCPR later amends this by stating that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary "[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals". (Full article...)
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonpartisan non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, lobbying, and community education. Founded in 1920 by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Helen Keller, and Walter Nelles, the ACLU has over 500,000 members and has an annual budget over $100 million. Local affiliates of the ACLU are active in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The ACLU provides legal assistance in cases when it considers civil liberties to be at risk. Legal support from the ACLU can take the form of direct legal representation, or preparation of amicus curiaebriefs expressing legal arguments (when another law firm is already providing representation). When the ACLU was founded in 1920, its focus was on freedom of speech, primarily for anti-war protesters. During the 1920s, the ACLU expanded its scope to include protecting the free speech rights of artists and striking workers, and working with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to combat racism and discrimination. In 1940, the ACLU leadership was caught up in the Red Scare, and voted to exclude Communists from its leadership positions. The ACLU was involved in the Miranda case, which addressed misconduct by police during interrogations; and in the New York Times case, which established new protections for newspapers reporting on government activities. In the 1970s and 1980s, the ACLU ventured into new legal areas, defending homosexuals, students, prisoners, and the poor. In the twenty-first century, the ACLU has fought the teaching of creationism in public schools and challenged some provisions of anti-terrorism legislation as infringing on privacy and civil liberties. In addition to representing persons and organizations in lawsuits, the ACLU lobbies for policies that have been established by its board of directors. Current positions of the ACLU include: opposing the death penalty; supporting same-sex marriage and the right of gays to adopt; supporting birth control and abortion rights; eliminating discrimination against women, minorities, and homosexuals; supporting the rights of prisoners and opposing torture; supporting the right of religious persons to practice their faiths without government interference; and opposing government preference for religion over non-religion, or for particular faiths over others.
Image 4George Orwell statue at the headquarters of the BBC. A defence of free speech in an open society, the wall behind the statue is inscribed with the words "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear", words from George Orwell's proposed preface to Animal Farm (1945). (from Freedom of speech)
Image 10Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)—Article 19 states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers". (from Freedom of speech)
Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856 – 1941) was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Jewish immigrant parents who raised him in a secular mode. He enrolled at Harvard Law School, graduating at the age of twenty with the highest grade average in the college’s history. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson nominated Brandeis to become a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. However, his nomination was bitterly contested, partly because, as JusticeWilliam O. Douglas wrote, "Brandeis was a militant crusader for social justice whoever his opponent might be. He was dangerous not only because of his brilliance, his arithmetic, his courage. He was dangerous because he was incorruptible. . . [and] the fears of the Establishment were greater because Brandeis was the first Jew to be named to the Court." He was eventually confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 47 to 22 on June 1, 1916, and became one of the most famous and influential figures ever to serve on the high court. His opinions were, according to legal scholars, some of the “greatest defenses” of freedom of speech and the right to privacy ever written by a member of the high court.
Next year, Congress will go back to the drawing board to rewrite the CDA. When that time comes, I am optimistic that a more educated Congress will develop a solution that protects our children and protects our free speech.