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Free speech rights are under threat. The Brennan Center for Justice fights to protect First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press.

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Why It Matters

The rights to free speech and a free press aren’t just integ­ral to demo­cracy — they are core Amer­ican values. But today these funda­mental rights are under threat. Pres­id­ent Trump regu­larly stokes outrage against the media and has deman­ded that the Justice Depart­ment invest­ig­ate compan­ies whose media outlets anger him. His admin­is­tra­tion has even sugges­ted narrow­ing First Amend­ment protec­tions to make it harder for the press to criti­cize the govern­ment. At the same time, social media compan­ies’ efforts to crack down on disin­form­a­tion and hate — an import­ant goal — run the risk of suppress­ing legit­im­ate online speech and singling out vulner­able groups if those efforts are not conduc­ted with care and trans­par­ency.

Mean­while, the courts have weapon­ized the First Amend­ment’s protec­tion of free speech to produce perverse, undemo­cratic results. In a series of cases, most notably Citizens United, campaign finance laws that protect the integ­rity of our elec­tions against corrup­tion have been over­turned. This misguided juris­pru­dence has helped usher in a flood of corpor­ate and special-interest money into our elec­tions, dimin­ish­ing the voices of ordin­ary citizens.

The Bren­nan Center fights to protect free speech and free­dom of the press by rais­ing the alarm about the govern­ment’s bid to silence and intim­id­ate the media. And we’re closely monit­or­ing social media compan­ies that remove content, to ensure they’re uphold­ing speech rights and allow­ing for a free and robust public conver­sa­tion. We also work to advance a vision of the Consti­tu­tion as a charter for a vibrant, parti­cip­at­ory demo­cracy protec­ted from the outsize influ­ence of corpor­a­tions and special interests.

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