Communications Director's blog

WTF, Middleborough?

Matt Segal

 
Matthew R. Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, originally wrote this guest blog for Boston.com.
 

Some laws are good, some are bad, and some are just @!#$! ridiculous. A new anti-swearing provision passed by the town of Middleborough falls into that last category.

On Monday night, Middleborough voted to allow police officers to write $20 tickets to enforce the town's longstanding ban on addressing anyone in public using profanity. The profanity ban is clearly unconstitutional because the Supreme Court has held that a government cannot ban public speech just because it contains profanity. In Cohen v. California, a man was arrested for disturbing the peace after he went out in public--in fact, he went to a courthouse!--wearing a jacket bearing the words "Fuck the Draft." The Supreme Court held that he had a First Amendment to wear the jacket, noting that "one man's vulgarity is another's lyric."

Federal appeals court in Boston rules 3-0 against DOMA

Great news today, DOMA is unconstitutional says federal appeals court in Boston! Our friends at GLAD brought this challenge, and the ACLU joined with 30 civil rights and legal organizations in support.

ACLU of Massachusetts executive director Carol Rose blogged the hearing in April that led to today's decision, and here is more on ACLU work for marriage equality.

Study finds three Massachusetts cities overuse arrests at schools

Ground-breaking report on Springfield, Worcester, and Boston schools by ACLU and Citizens for Juvenile Justice uncovers significant racial disparities as well as arrests for disruptions once handled by schools and parents.

At Liberty: Friday, April 13, 2012

It's not the First Amendment for nothing. We're highlighting ways
people are using their freedom of expression and other liberties.


The web can't do justice to the ICA's new exhibit of work by Charline von Heyl, with just a standard news release and perfunctory online slideshow. In fact, the contrast between that virtual flatness and how von Heyl's work looks in person is a testament to her skill. Pieces on display through July 15 are variously huge, almost microscopically intricate, and somehow seem brighter than possible. As my friend Liz Colburn-Moraites wrote after visiting this week, "This exhibit is absolutely fantastic, she breaks the bounds of painting. Slides of her work do not do them justice. You must give her work time to draw you in and then it engulfs you." - CO

Court prohibits religious restrictions on government-funded trafficking victims' program

ACLU challenged distribution of funds with prohibition on use for contraceptive and abortion referrals and services.