Take This Quiz

This is a pop quiz. What organization brought the following lawsuits?

This is a pop quiz. What organization brought the following lawsuits?

Phoenix banned noncommercial advertising in city buses, in an attempt to prevent posting of controversial anti-abortion messages. The organization filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging violation of the right of free speech.
In Pennsylvania, a pregnant seventeen year old wanted to carry her baby to term, but her parents wanted her to have an abortion. Lawyers for this organization convinced authorities that she should continue her pregnancy.
A high school basketball player in Alabama was kicked off the team because he had to go to church instead of Sunday practice. The organization’s lawyers got him back on the team.
In California, the organization defended an eighth grade student’s right to wear a T-shirt carrying the message "Real Women Love Jesus." The school subsequently lifted its ban on the shirt.
When the state of Florida refused to place Pat Robertson’s name on the primary ballot, this is the group that represented him.
This organization successfully sued the town of Waterloo, Iowa, defending the right of conservative Christian activists to broadcast on public access television.
In Massachusetts, the organization sued the Worcester County Sheriff to retrieve religious articles seized from prisoners. Rosaries, prayer beads, religious medals and books had been confiscated as "signs of gang membership."
In Vermont, the Human Services Board required students receiving Medicaid and food stamps to use Social Security numbers. The parents of some of these students believed permanent numbers represent the mark of the Anti-Christ. The organization won a ruling reaffirming that government cannot require people to violate their religious beliefs in order to receive benefits to which they are otherwise entitled.
In each of these cases, and literally hundreds of similar ones, the organization defending the rights being infringed by government was the American Civil Liberties Union. If the answer comes as a surprise, it shouldn’t. Civil libertarians stand for the proposition that government cannot interfere with the exercise of rights protected by the Bill of Rights. That means, among other things, that government can neither favor nor burden religious beliefs. Government cannot be used as a tool by some to impose their beliefs on others; neither can government interfere with the free speech of those who are seeking to convince others of the truth of their message.
The Bill of Rights is based on a very important principle: the ends do not justify the means. I may consider your idea dangerous, your religion blasphemous, your politics absurd. But I cannot use the power of the state to suppress you. Instead, I must respect your right to advocate for your position, as you must respect mine. To those who fear such freedom, the founders had a compelling response: freedom is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as a government that can mandate what we shall believe.

1 Comment

  1. Wow – this is a wonderful compilation and a concluding statement about ‘liberty’s lawyer’ -the ACLU. Beautifully done. Kudos to you and ACLU too.

Comments are closed.