1928 November 27

ACLU Wins Right to Speak in NYC Schools


On this day, the ACLU finally won a two-year battle for the right to give presentations in the New York City schools on the subject of “old fashioned free speech.”

For other episodes in the conflict between the ACLU and the New York City public schools over the ACLU’s right to speak in the schools, see May 21, 1926 and March 19, 1928.

In the 1920s, the principle of a broad freedom of speech for unpopular views had not been established. In particular, there was no recognition of the distinction between a person or group’s right to speak and the content of their views. Thus, the ACLU was often attacked as being “pro-communist” because it defended the right of communists to speak or to demonstrate.

See the two 1931 breakthrough Supreme Court cases on freedom of expression, Stromberg v. California (May 18, 1931) and freedom of the press, Near v. Minnesota (June 1, 1931).

Read About the ACLU in the 1920s: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

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