The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the making of any law abridging the freedom of speech....The Fourteenth Amendment, which states, "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States...." applies these protections in the states.

Click here to learn more about the ACLU's work to protect the rights of protesters at the national level and in other states.

Eric Smith, of Lebanon, Ind., came to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Indianapolis in July 2012 to express his opposition to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which he believed threatened his Second Amendment rights.

Instead, the trip became a lesson in his First Amendment rights. Smith, a disabled veteran, and his 10 year-old son were told they would be arrested if Smith did not leave the public space because he did not have a state permit allowing him to exercise his First Amendment right to protest.

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Wanting to educate the public about the fine details of the federal healthcare law, attorney David Kolhoff contacted the Allen County Public Library about setting up his laptop on a mobile cart in a large open plaza abutting the library.

When the library denied him use of the space, he enlisted the ACLU of Indiana to file suit on his behalf. The library did not contest the fact that, if its plaza area is considered a traditional public forum, the prohibition of Kolhoff's expressive activity would be in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We argued that the speech was not disruptive and that the First Amendment protects Kolhoff's rights to engage in this expression at library. We refuted the Library's contention that the plaza was a "limited public forum," argued its status as a library was a significant issue, and concluded that the prohibition on Kolhoff's expressive activity was unconstitutional even if the plaza is a limited or non-public forum.

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When Darren Burke entered the Howard County Courthouse in Kokomo, Ind., on a Friday in 2011, his only intention was to inform the Sheriff about his desire to peacefully protest on the following Monday. But because he had a dollar bill taped to his mouth, the officer asked him to remove his "mask" first.

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