The rights of free speech are guaranteed to us by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by Article I, Section 19 of the Tennessee State Constitution. These protections apply not only to speech we consider true or good but also to speech that is unpopular, strange, or even hateful. Our nation’s founders believed that if society wants to protest against ideas it is convinced are wrong, it must do so by expressing its own ideas, not by silencing those wrong ideas. The Supreme Court has written that this freedom is the matrix – the indispensable condition – of all other freedoms we enjoy.
ACLU-TN’s Freedom of Speech, Expression and Association Resource Sheet reviews common free speech issues such as getting a permit for a rally, censorship, student speech, hate speech and more. You can learn more about ACLU-TN’s work to uphold free speech for Tennesseans here.