For Immediate Release – Wednesday, December 17, 2008
For more information, contact: Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN Executive Director, 615-320-7142
Greeneville, TN – The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) today announced that it is representing peace activist Dan Frazier who is being sued for $40 billion for selling anti-war t-shirts over the internet.
Frazier, based in Flagstaff, AZ, designed a political t-shirt that criticizes President Bush with the phrase “Bush Lied…They Died” superimposed over the names of 4,058 troops killed in the Iraq War. Through his on-line store www.CarryaBigSticker.com, Frazier sells the t-shirts and contributes a portion of each t-shirt sale to an organization that benefits families of fallen soldiers.
The parents of a fallen soldier filed a lawsuit earlier this year seeking over $40 billion in damages ($10 million in damages for the family of each fallen soldier). The suit also seeks to force Mr. Frazier to remove the names of the troops from his t-shirts, denying him his right to political speech.
Mr. Frazier’s free speech rights have been under attack since 2007 when the Arizona State Legislature passed a law prohibiting the use of the name of any solider, alive or deceased, on any item for sale without permission of the soldier or a legal representative. ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Frazier and successfully challenged the constitutionality of the statute. Federal District Judge Neil V. Wake wrote in his opinion, ”The Nation’s debt to its fallen soldiers may not be paid by giving their families a toll on free speech.”
Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN Executive Director, said “ACLU is committed to protecting the speech of all political activists regardless of the controversy of their message. While our sympathy goes out to the families of fallen soldiers, we cannot jeopardize the free speech rights of Mr. Frazier or others who want to speak out against the war.”
According to Mr. Frazier he designed the t-shirt “to be able to talk about the toll this war has taken on our men and women in uniform. Those who died were real people with real families. When you list their actual names, you help to remind people of that. I think that’s important.”
Mr. Frazier is represented by Erica Green of the Greene Law Firm of Morristown, TN and Tricia Herzfeld, ACLU-TN staff attorney.