1934 April 30

Free Speech for Nazis? ACLU Says Yes

 

The rise of domestic Nazi groups in the U.S. forced the ACLU for the first time to confront the question of whether the First Amendment protects racial, ethnic and religious “hate speech.” After extensive deliberations, the ACLU Board of Directors decided on this day that yes, the First Amendment does protect the free speech rights of Nazis and other hate groups. It issued a pamphlet entitled, “Shall We Defend Free Speech for Nazis in America?” A revised and expanded version appeared in 1939 as “Why We Defend Free Speech for Nazis, Fascists – and Communists.” On November 19, 1938, the ACLU announced that it would defend the First Amendment rights of the German-American Bund, the largest pro-Nazi group in the country.

A national controversy erupted in 1976 when the ACLU agreed to defend the free speech rights of a small Nazi group that, on October 4, 1976, requested a permit for a demonstration in the predominantly Jewish community of Skokie, Illinois. After much controversy and legal wrangling, the  Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on May 22, 1978 upheld the First Amendment rights of the Nazi group to hold its demonstration in Skokie.

Watch a documentary on American Nazis in the 1930shttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iw4_xmUgo3w&bpctr=1396635058

Learn more about hate speech: Samuel Walker, Hate Speech: The History of an American Controversy (1994)

Find a Day

Go
Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps

Topics

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!