Freedom of Speech and Association

In our system of government, the citizen is the sovereign and power flows from the people to the government.

Without freedom of speech and assembly, the citizens lose their control and become mere subjects rather than sovereign. We are a nation founded on reason—“deliberation and choice” rather than “accident and force,” as the Federalist put it—and speech must be left free to correct error wherever it may be found.

 

ACTIVE CASES: 

Harris v. Quinn. CCJ teamed up with Pacific Legal Foundation and Atlantic Legal Foundation in this important case challenging an extension of the law requiring dissenting employees to pay fees to a union. Our brief argued that the Court’s earlier cases allowing public employee unions to force workers to pay “agency shop fees” has seriously impacted public policy—allowing unions to “capture” some public agencies.

More specifically, the case involved an Illinois law that classified family members taking care of elderly relatives at home as de facto members of the Service Employees International Union, forcing them to pay public-employee union dues. We hoped that the Supreme Court would overturn its prior bad precedent.

While the Court did not actually overrule its previous bad decisions, it left that precedent in such a weakened state that CCJ Director John Eastman called it the "walking dead" in his commentary on the influential ScotusBlog website. The importance of this 1st Amendment freedom of speech and association ruling cannot be overstated, because as everybody knows, public-employee union dues often substantially contribute to all manner of political activity with which many of the coerced union members would disagree.

Download the full brief here: Amicus Brief, Pamela Harris et al. v. Pat Quinn et al.

 

McCullen v. CoakleyMassachusetts enacted a statute outlawing any speech activity outside of abortion clinics—except for the activity of the clinic employees. CCJ filed a brief supporting a challenge to the law arguing that the ban violates Freedom of Speech. While the state is free to prohibit intimidation and harassment, it cannot ban all speech based on the identity of the speaker or the subject matter of the speech. The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in mid-January.

Download the full CCJ brief here: Amicus Brief, McCullen v. Coakley

 

Susan B. Anthony List et al. v. Driehaus. CCJ weighed in on March 3 in the Supreme Court in support of Susan B. Anthony List’s challenge to the constitutionality of Ohio’s “false statements” law. SBA List sought to hold pro-life Democrats accountable in the 2010 midterm elections for their vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act, which SBA List claims provides for taxpayer funding of abortion. One of their targets was Representative Steve Driehaus of Ohio. Instead of challenging the views of SBA List with counterspeech of his own, Representative Driehaus threatened litigation against the billboard owners SBA List had hired to display the ads. He also filed a complaint against SBA List with the Ohio Elections Commission, claiming that SBA List’s criticism of his vote violated the Ohio law. Our amicus brief harkens back to the Founders views of the Freedom of Speech, noting that protection for speech was most important when the speech was critical of government officials.

 

Download the full CCJ brief here: Amicus Brief, Susan B. Anthony List et al. v. Steven Driehaus

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