The Ongoing Death of Free Speech: Prominent ACLU Lawyer Cheers Suppression of a New Book

Free speech has always been more than a Constitutional guarantee: it’s also a crucial societal value. And it’s more imperiled than ever.

by Glenn Greenwald
Glenn Greenwald’s Blog

In May of 2019, a source in Brazil provided me with a massive archive of secret documents downloaded from the telephones of powerful Brazilian officials that consumed the next year of my life while reporting it (a new Wired article published on Friday tells part of that story). One of the effects of the ensuing intense controversies was that I was unable to finish an article I had been working on for months at the time: a lengthy, deeply reported examination of the internal war engulfing the ACLU, fueled by a raging conflict between its more traditional lawyers who still believe in the primacy of free speech and the need to defend it and the newer political liberal activists and lawyers who do not.

Among the people I interviewed was the organization’s long-time Executive Director, Anthony Romero, who was forced to navigate the post-Charlottesville controversy with a series of increasingly confusing statements designed to appease not only public and donor anger over the defense by ACLU lawyers of the right of white supremacists to march (after one killed a protester with his car) but also internal rage that ACLU lawyers took that free speech case.

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