Free Speech

Freedom of speech is protected in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights and is guaranteed to all Americans. The Supreme Court has written that this freedom is "the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom." The ACLU of Maryland recognizes that if one person can be silenced, all of us are at risk. That is why upholding free speech is a cornerstone of our work. 

Recent Activity

ACLU Files Two Lawsuits Challenging Gag Orders that 
Silence Victims of Police Abuse

News article, June 29, 2017

Lawsuits Against Baltimore City and Salisbury Police Charge Free Speech, Government Secrecy Violations

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Appeals Court Allows Wikimedia Challenge to NSA Internet Surveillance to Go Forward

News article, May 23, 2017

NSA has secretly spied on Americans' internet communications for years

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ACLU Takes Action on Governor Hogan's Facebook Censorship

News article, February 18, 2017

First Amendment Rights of Constituents Violated

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ACLU Urges Justice Department to Investigate the Use and Impact of Face Recognition

News article, October 18, 2016

ACLU of Maryland Raises Concerns About Impact in Baltimore

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Victory in "bullhorn" anti-protest case against Kwame Rose

News article, September 20, 2016

Final charge dropped, called "unlawful"

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Frivolous "SLAPP" Lawsuit Seeking to Block Free Speech in Harford County Dismissed

News article, September 6, 2016

SLAPP suits seek to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with litigation costs

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Police Secretly Put Large Part of Baltimore Under Constant Aerial Video Surveillance

News article, August 24, 2016

Technology Was Developed for U.S. Military in Iraq

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ACLU Slams "Postcard-Only" Prison Mail Proposal

News article, July 20, 2016

Maryland would be first state in Nation to ban personal letters

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ACLU Defends Activists Sued For Organizing Petition Drive

News article, June 16, 2016

Taking a stand against lawsuits intended to keep Marylanders from speaking out on matters of public concern.

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ACLU Sues to Protect Access of Migrant Farmworkers to Legal Aid

News article, April 21, 2016

Expedited Review Sought to Lift Unconstitutional Montgomery County Police Order

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ACLU Represents Activist Kwame Rose at Trial Over Arrest During Peaceful Political Protest

News article, March 8, 2016

Arrest during protest after mistrial declared in trial of Officer William Porter in the killing of Freddie Gray

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ACLU of Maryland Applauds President Obama's Visit to Baltimore Mosque

News article, February 3, 2016

Our state and nation are strengthened when we recognize our common humanity

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ACLU speaks out about Baltimore City students' right to protest

News article, December 14, 2015

Responds to Baltimore School System letter to parents, students, community members

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ACLU Successfully Defends Right of Homeowner to Display Political Messages on His Property

News article, December 9, 2015

Citation Had Been Issued Based on "Black Lives Matter" Message

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Mobile Justice Comes to Maryland

News article, November 13, 2015

ACLU Releases Phone App for Recording Police Encounters

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Important Cell Phone Location Data Ruling Protects Privacy

News article, August 6, 2015

Federal Appeals Court Rules Warrant Is Required for Cell Phone Location Tracking

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ACLU Files Open Meetings Complaint Against Pocomoke City

News article, July 31, 2015

The Real News Network, other media blocked from public town meeting on racial bias concerns with police chief firing

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Ruling Upholds Right of Individuals Targeted as "Enemies" by Leopold to Seek Justice

News article, May 29, 2015

Decision reinforces state's public information law

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ACLU statement on lifting Baltimore Curfew

News article, May 3, 2015

We celebrate Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's decision this morning to rescind the order.

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ACLU raises new concerns with Baltimore curfew

News article, May 2, 2015

We express grave concern about the continuation of the curfew and the manner in which it is being enforced.

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ACLU asks Baltimore Mayor to lift the curfew

News article, April 30, 2015

Curfew is continuing at the expense of Baltimore residents' constitutional freedoms

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ACLU Sues NSA to Stop Mass Internet Spying

News article, March 10, 2015

Wikimedia, Rutherford Institute, Amnesty Among 9 Plaintiffs

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ACLU Raises First Amendment Concerns about Baltimore County Animal Shelter

News article, October 16, 2014

Restrictions on taking photos, raising concerns

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ACLU takes action for political free speech in Hancock, MD

News article, July 3, 2014

New charter amendment sets unconstitutional durational limits for campaign signs

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Bills to Decriminalize Marijuana, Limit Location Tracking and License Plate Readers, and Restrict Shackling of Pregnant Inmates

News article, April 14, 2014

Governor O'Malley signs five ACLU priority bills into law

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ACLU of Maryland Executive Director to be Inducted into Maryland Women's Hall of Fame

News article, March 20, 2014

Ceremony at the Governor's Mansion in Annapolis

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Landmark Settlement in Challenge to Man’s Wrongful Detention, Camera Seizure at Preakness

News article, March 12, 2014

Police to Adopt Model Policy, Institute New Training, Apologize for Incident, Pay Substantial Settlement Amount

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ACLU of Maryland Announces 2014 Legislative Priorities

News article, January 8, 2014

Issues include taxing and regulating marijuana, stopping local police from enforcing civil immigration detainers, limiting email and cell phone surveillance, and ending the shackling of pregnant women.

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Settlement Reached in Ocean City Boardwalk Free Speech Case

News article, November 22, 2013

Victory in ACLU case on behalf of violinist upholds First Amendment rights of performers

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City Council’s “mean-spirited” panhandling bill unconstitutional

News article, November 1, 2013

A bill to further restrict panhandling in downtown Baltimore is both unconstitutional and a violation of a consent decree.

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Free Speech Rights Significantly Expanded in Baltimore's Inner Harbor

News article, October 16, 2013

Settlement completed in lawsuit brought on behalf of peace group, The Women In Black

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ACLU asks court to block Boardwalk ordinance silencing musicians

News article, June 10, 2013

Federal court will hear testimony from musicians, acoustical expert

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ACLU Slams Montgomery County Schools For Refusing to Discuss How to Stop Pledge of Allegiance Harassment

News article, May 21, 2013

County Needs to Ensure Policy is Followed in Schools

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ACLU Seeks to Add Former Anne Arundel Police Chief Teare as Defendant in "Enemies List" Lawsuit

News article, April 30, 2013

Audio Tapes Released by the County Reveal Teare's Involvement, Compilation of Dossier on Karla Hamner

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ACLU Defends Right of Violinist to Perform on the Ocean City Boardwalk

News article, April 11, 2013

Bill Hassay Jr hopes to return to entertain visitors this summer

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Montgomery County Pledge of Allegiance Harassment

Legal case, April 9, 2013

ACLU of Maryland defends Montgomery County student harassed for not standing for Pledge. Repeated violations demand systemic reform in County.

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ACLU Defends Montgomery County Student Harassed for Not Standing for Pledge

News article, April 9, 2013

Repeated Violations Demand Systemic Reform in County

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Federal Court Rebukes Baltimore Police Lawyers for "Veritable Witch Hunt"

News article, March 8, 2013

$1,000 Fine Ordered Paid to Man Harassed for Recording Police Incident at Preakness

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ACLU Advocates for Student Social Media Privacy Bills

News article, March 4, 2013

Legislation builds on new employee social media privacy law

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ACLU Concerned About Cell Phone Tracking

News article, February 26, 2013

Testifies in Support of Bill Requiring Search Warrant

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ACLU Supports Bill to Prohibit Audio Surveillance on Public Transit

News article, February 7, 2013

Transit riders should not have to give up their fundamental right to privacy

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Board of Public Works Approves Attorneys' Fees for Important Civil Rights Case

News article, January 23, 2013

Fee Amount Compounded by State's Prior Refusals to Pay

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ACLU Lawsuit Challenges, Demands Full Accounting of Leopold's "Enemies List"

News article, December 12, 2012

Group Represents 11 Individuals Targeted in Dossiers and Illegal Criminal Database Searches

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ACLU, AFSCME Call on Division of Corrections to Show Compliance with Maryland's Social Media Privacy Law

News article, December 5, 2012

First-in-the-nation law bars "shoulder surfing" access to social media accounts

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ACLU Protests Censorship of Political Speech by Montgomery County Government

News article, October 23, 2012

Advertising rules must be applied evenly

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ACLU Opposes MTA Program Installing Pervasive Audio Surveillance of Riders as Significant Invasion of Privacy

News article, October 18, 2012

MTA Audio Recording Previously Rejected by General Assembly

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Chestertown blocks free speech in Town park

Legal case, September 17, 2012

ACLU asks Town to immediately halt enforcement of unconstitutional ordinance

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ACLU: You have the right to record police actions

News article, July 23, 2012

DOJ Guidance Could Make Maryland a National Model for Protecting Citizens' Rights to Record Official Actions

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Leopold Employees Improperly Accessed Data

News article, June 5, 2012

Criminal History Databases Were Accessed to Gather “Enemies” Information

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Social Media Privacy Bill Passes Both Houses

News article, April 9, 2012

Maryland becomes leader in the nation with model legislation

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ACLU Condemns Chief's Silence, Demands Criminal History Logs Related to Leopold's "Enemies List"

News article, March 28, 2012

Group Also Files New Info Requests with County for Annapolis Mayor, Delegate Dwyer, and More

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ACLU Speaks Out on AA County Police Chief Teare's Refusal to Testify

News article, March 22, 2012

The Council and voters have a right to know

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ACLU Calls for State Audit of Crime Database Use in Anne Arundel County

News article, March 20, 2012

Group wants to know if information in the database was inappropriately accessed and disseminated

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Leopold "Dossiers" Reveal Illegal Political Opposition Research, Potentially Illegal Use of State Crime Database

News article, March 15, 2012

ACLU to File Additional Information Requests on Behalf of Other Potential Victims

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ACLU Files Information Request Demanding Leopold "Enemies List"

News article, March 7, 2012

Group Asserts Police Actions May Violate New "No Spying" Law

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Anne Arundel County Executive Leopold's "Enemies List"

Legal case, March 7, 2012

ACLU files public information requests, demands full investigation after County Executive is indicted.

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ACLU Pushes for Social Media Privacy Bill

News article, March 7, 2012

Group, Client to Testify in Support of Bill to Block Employers from Asking for Social Media Passwords

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ACLU Pushes for Social Media Privacy Bill

News article, February 23, 2012

Group, Client to Testify in Support of Bill to Block Employers from Asking for Social Media Passwords

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Federal Court Hearing in Preakness Video Recording Case

News article, February 13, 2012

A hearing before the Federal District Court will take place on Monday, February 13 in Sharp v. BPD.

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2012 Legislative Priorities

News article, January 11, 2012

Issues Include Marriage Equality, Criminal Justice Reform, Social Media Privacy

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Web-Filter Company Acts to Address ACLU Complaints of LGBT Censorship in Montgomery County

News article, November 16, 2011

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Just-in-Time Victory for Bel Air High Drama Students Harford Officials Reverse Censorship of Gay Scene

News article, November 4, 2011

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ACLU Blasts Bel Air High School Censorship of Gay Scene in “Almost, Maine”

News article, November 3, 2011

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LGBT censorship of Bel Air High School play

Legal case, November 2, 2011

The ACLU of Maryland urged Harford County Public School officials to allow a play to be staged as written and not censor a scene that features an LGBT storyline.

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LGBT web filtering in Montgomery County

Legal case, October 24, 2011

The ACLU of Maryland advocated that the iBoss web filtering software being used by Montgomery County government unblock a filter falsely labeling LGBT websites as pornography.

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ACLU Sues Baltimore Police Over Man’s Wrongful Detention, Camera Seizure at Preakness

News article, August 31, 2011

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Federal Appeals Court Orders Attorneys’ Fees For Important Civil Rights Case

News article, August 30, 2011

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Sharp v. BCPD

Legal case, August 30, 2011

Concerned that the Baltimore City Police Department routinely violates the First Amendment by threatening citizens who try to photograph or record police encounters, the ACLU of Maryland filed a lawsuit against BPD on behalf of Christopher Sharp.

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Baltimore Police May Face ACLU Lawsuit Over Man’s Wrongful Detention, Camera Seizure at Preakness

News article, August 4, 2011

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ACLU Calls on Maryland Transit Authority to Cease Unconstitutional Harassment of Photographers

News article, June 1, 2011

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ACLU Says Division of Corrections’ Revised Social Media Policy Remains Coercive and Violates “Friends” Privacy Rights

News article, April 18, 2011

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ACLU Responds to Maryland Division of Corrections’ Revision of Invasive Social Media Policy

News article, April 6, 2011

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Want a Job? Password Please!

News article, February 14, 2011

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State Police Heavily Redacted Spy Files Show No Illegal Activity by Activists

News article, November 19, 2010

Spying Also Revealed to Occur Over Longer Time Period

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Leaders of CCAN Wrongfully Named As Terrorists, Tracked in Maryland State Police Criminal Database

News article, October 23, 2010

Md. Environmental Groups Join Call for Justice and Reform

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ACLU Defends Rights of Innocent People Named as Terrorists t

News article, October 9, 2010

Governor Asked to Allow them to Copy Files and Benefit from Counsel

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ACLU Rebuts State Police Attempt to Duck Political Spying Inquiry

News article, August 25, 2010

There are strong indications that MSP may be withholding other documents relevant to surveillance of peaceful activists

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ACLU Commends Governor for Appointing Former AG Sachs to Investigate MSP Spying

News article, July 31, 2010

Mr. Sachs has long been a respected voice for the Bill of Rights

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ACLU Lawsuit Uncovers State Police Spying on Activists

News article, July 17, 2010

Targets are Peace and Anti-Death Penalty Groups

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ACLU Files Lawsuit to Obtain Information Related to Government Spying on Peace Groups

News article, June 12, 2010

Concerned that the MSP are hiding information related to surveillance of local peace activists and groups

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Bill to Ban Police Spying on Peaceful Activists Introduced Today by Legislative Leaders

News article, January 22, 2010

Bill will codify the recommendation of the Sachs Report

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Maryland State Police Spying on Peaceful Political Protest Groups

Legal case, June 12, 2008

Between March 2005 and May 2006, the Maryland State Police's Homeland Security and Intelligence Bureau undertook a campaign of infiltrating and monitoring peaceful political protest groups (from across the political spectrum) in Maryland, and falsely labeled activists in those groups as terrorists in state criminal intelligence databases.

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