Before the Civil War, pro-slavery legislators attempted to squelch
anti-slavery speech and writing through gag rules and other anti-First
Groups and Organizations
The Adult Film Association of America was founded as the first trade
association of pornographic film producers, working to defend the First
Amendment rights of the industry.
The American Association of University Professors represents the interests
of academics and provides assistance to protect the First Amendment
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression promotes the free
exchange of ideas by defending the First Amendment rights of booksellers
The American Center for Law and Justice, the legal advocacy arm of
religious conservatives, litigates issues of First Amendment religious
freedom and “family values.”
The American Civil Liberties Union states as its mission the protection and
preservation of First Amendment rights, equal protection under the law, and
the right of privacy.
The American Friends Service Committee, founded in 1917, has been active in
defending civil rights and civil liberties, and is a vocal proponent of
First Amendment protections, especially the right of association and
freedom of speech.
The American Nazi Party is one of several hundred white supremacist groups
in the United States whose words and actions have tested the limits of the
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is committed to
separation of government and religious institutions. AU has been involved
in several First Amendment cases.
Citizens for Decent Literature worked to stop the sale of obscenity and
filed briefs in anti-pornography cases. Non-obscene pornography is
protected by the First Amendment.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund defends comic book and graphic novel
writers who sometimes are prosecuted under obscenity regulations. Courts
have often struck down such laws as overly broad and in violation of the
First Amendment, but some defendants accept plea deals to avoid lengthy
The Committee on Public Information was the first large-scale propaganda
agency of the U.S. government and was viewed by some as stifling First
The Electronic Privacy Information Center advocates for First Amendment
freedoms of speech and privacy, particularly in new media such as the
Internet and surveillance.
First Liberty Institute provides free legal services and support to those
dealing with religious liberty issues. It has expanded into religious
liberty litigation in all 50 states.
Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression began as an organization to
protect free speech rights of college students. It has campaigned against
speech codes and free-speech zones.
The National Coalition Against Censorship serves as a hub for groups and
individuals combating censorship. It focuses on three activities: action,
advocacy, and education.
People for the American Way is a progressive advocacy group that has become
involved in First Amendment cases advocating for religious liberty and
separation of church and state.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has played an important
role in many controversies over First Amendment press freedom and freedom
The civil activism of Students for a Democratic Society, a radical youth
group, frequently led to the exercise of First Amendment freedoms in
conflict with government officials.
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression is a
nonprofit organization that is devoted to defending the principles of free