Government criticism is protected by the First Amendment, no matter what the platform.
Dear ACLU Supporter,
Our country's founders couldn't have dreamt of all the ways we now have to express our views and concerns: Email, websites, texts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and more.
But they did know that it's crucial that the people be able to freely criticize their government. While the technology we use to speak out evolves over time, our fundamental First Amendment right to do so never changes.
That's why our recent win for Jon Goldsmith of Red Oak, Iowa, is so important. Jon (pictured above, left) attended a local festival and witnessed an Adams County sheriff's deputy being what he felt was overly forceful. So Jon posted his concern on Facebook, using profane language. (The First Amendment says nothing about using only nice words.) Jon never expected that he would be charged with a crime for his post, but the sheriff's office charged him with criminal harassment. Jon had to hire a lawyer to defend himself.
The ACLU helped get those charges against Jon dropped. We also filed a lawsuit that resulted in a court order and settlement, requiring the sheriff’s office to stop charging people with crimes for exercising their right to free speech. The sheriff's office also agreed to stop deleting and blocking critics on its official Facebook page and other social media. And it will pay Jon $10,000 in damages, plus our attorney’s fees, as well as undergo First Amendment training and develop a social media policy to be approved by the ACLU. Read more.
It's not our only recent free speech win.
Another client, Josh Harms of Sibley, Iowa, started a website to criticize town officials when they failed to stop a stench coming from a local blood processing plant. The city threatened Josh (pictured above, right) with legal action, so we helped him successfully sue the city to defend his right to speak out and make his hometown a more livable place.
Josh Harms of Sibley, Iowa
No matter the platform, you can be sure the ACLU of Iowa will do all we can to protect our First Amendment rights.
With gratitude for your support of our work,
Executive Director, ACLU of Iowa
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