Stories

Axios Aug 24
SaveSave story

The ACLU’s moment of crisis on free speech

Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville is covered to symbolize mourning for Heather Heyer, who was killed while protesting a white nationalist rally (AP's Steve Helber)

"Violence in Charlottesville leads to soul-searching at ACLU," by AP's Tom Hays and Larry Neumeister:

  • "Faced with an angry backlash for defending white supremacists' right to march in Charlottesville, the American Civil Liberties Union is confronting a feeling among some of its members that was once considered heresy: Maybe some speech isn't worth defending."
  • "Cracks in the ACLU's strict defense of the First Amendment no matter how offensive the speech opened from the moment a counter-protester was killed during the rally in Virginia."
  • "Some critics said the ACLU has blood on its hands for persuading a judge to let the Aug. 12 march go forward. An ACLU leader in Virginia resigned, tweeting, 'What's legal and what's right are sometimes different.'"
  • Why it matters: "The backlash [is] reminiscent of one that followed the ACLU's 1978 defense of a neo-Nazi group that wanted to march through Skokie, Illinois, a Chicago suburb with a large number of Holocaust survivors."