Civil Rights

ACLU Legislative Update

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) makes available information about pending legislation on several hot topics, including criminal justice, death penalty, drug policy, free speech and more. Browse the collection by issue or ACLU region. Stay up-to-date with these issues by requesting to receive email updates.

The Avalon Project

The Avalon Project at Yale makes available the full text of historical documents relevant to the U.S. Constitution. Find the Magna Carta, the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence and other important historical documents.

Center for Democracy and Technology

The Free Speech section of this advocacy Web site provides news and commentary about first amendment issues, including library filtering, the Communications Decency Act, Web blocking by state law and spam. It also offers information about pending federal legislation from 1995 to present and important court decisions.

Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition

An advocacy group opposed to the Communications Decency Act, the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition maintains this historical Web site. It contains the documents that led up to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1997 ruling, which overturned certain provisions of the Act.

Committee to Protect Journalists

A non-profit organization devoted to defending freedom of the press worldwide, the Committee to Protect Journalists monitors, and reports on, dangers affecting the profession. You will find reports or statistics on incidents involving the deaths, disappearances or attacks of journalists. You will also find in-depth reports on conditions in specific countries. The country summaries are available in English, Spanish, French or other language of the area. The home page publishes alerts regarding specific incidents

Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation, The

Prepared by the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, this publication offers the text of the Constitution, amendments, proposed amendments not ratified by the States, and case annotations. Researchers may perform keyword searches or download relevant portions of the text. Downloading in portable document format (.pdf) is also available.

The Constitution on Lexis Nexis

LexisNexis offers a small collection of useful links and commentary for conducting constitutional research. Find an essay on how the U.S. Constitution is amended, a timeline, an article on failed amendments and links to the Bill of Rights, Amendments 11-27, the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution as well as a list of constitutional law experts at LexisNexis.

Constitutions, Statutes, and Codes on Cornell LII

Cornell Legal Information Institute offers this gateway to federal and state constitutions, laws, and regulations. Several of these materials are available via Cornell LII servers. While the site typically improves on the use of the materials by adding search and browsing features, researchers should take care to verify and update information they find. More current sources of the United States Code (USC) and Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) exist.

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

EPIC devotes a section of its advocacy Web site to free speech issues. It highlights select First Amendment issues in the news, and provides an overview of free speech protection as well as an analysis of First Amendment law and technology. The commentary includes case annotations and links to relevant documents.

Exploring First Amendment Law

Professor Doug Linder, University of Missouri-Kansas City, offers a syllabus and teaching materials on first amendment law. As the home page provides, "teachers are welcome to adopt this material for their own courses." The materials present about 30 topics for discussion, including the press and fair trial issues, indecent speech, hate speech, speech restrictions in public forums, students' rights and religious symbols in public places. Materials provide an introduction to the issue, the text of relevant case law and questions for discussion.

First Amendment Center

The First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University offers research materials on topics pertaining to the freedoms set forth by the First Amendment. It provides news, commentary, select court opinions and dockets, lesson plans and more.

First Amendment Handbook

This publication by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) provides information for journalists about a variety of free press issues. Reproduced in its entirety, it covers libel, privacy, hidden cameras, source confidentiality, prior restraints, gag orders, access to courts, access to places, freedom of information and copyright. Links to relevant case law are included throughout the book.

First Amendment: an Overview

Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII) provides an overview of the First Amendment with links to the U.S. Constitution, relevant U.S. Supreme Court cases and other references.

Free Expression Policy Project

The Free Expression Policy Project (FEPP) provides commentary, briefs, news, reports and white papers on many issues related to the First Amendment. Topics include art censorship, censorship history, copyright, censorship of youth, media violence, and others. Researchers will find an abundance of material here. In addition to meaningful navigational links, the site offers a search engine.

Free Speech Movement Digital Archive

The archive contains materials that document the Free Speech Movement at University of California, Berkeley, from September to December 1964. You will find a linked bibliography of materials as well as guides to specific collections. There is an outline of the full-text documents available. You may search them, but you might retrieve documents unrelated to the free speech archive. The search engine queries the broader collection, Online Archive of California. The full-text documents we retrieved, while evaluating the site, did not require additional software for viewing.

Freedom of Information Center

The University of Missouri School of Journalism maintains the Freedom of Information Center, which houses a collection of more than 1 million articles and documents about access to information at the state, federal and local levels. The Web site provides research guides on the Freedom of Information Act and media law, information about the First Amendment, sample freedom of information act request letters, and more.

International Constitutional Law

This site provides the full-text of English-language translations of constitutional documents from several countries. It also offers country information, as well as a list of countries the site does not cover. An introduction to each translation outlines the development of the constitution in that country and provides information about the translation. Country information includes information about the development of constitutional law and political parties.

Justia Civil Rights Overview

Provides overview of civil rights law, including statutes, cases, and links to dockets, news, and blogs on the topic.

Legal Threats Database

The Citizen Media Law Project, jointly affiliated with Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Center for Citizen Media, makes available a database of information about legal threats. Threats include intellectual property infringement lawsuits, cease and desist letters, defamation actions, civil rights actions, and more. You may search by a variety of criteria including the type of threat, the parties involved, lawyers' names, verdict or settlement amounts, jurisdiction (not limited to the U.S.), Web sites involved, keyword and more. The information provided includes all the above that is relevant as well as the current status and a summary of the threat.

National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC)

This advocacy group Web site provides news, commentary, position papers and other information about censorship issues. It covers censorship in art, books, film, music, television and theater as well as free speech generally, censorship on the Internet, censorship in legislation, censorship in libraries and more.

Online Censorship and Free Expression

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) provides news and commentary about filtering or Internet blocking, hate speech, censorship, freedom of religion, freedom of information and other issues pertaining to the First Amendment. Find full-text legal documents like court filings, regulations and legislation as well as non-legal materials like transcripts, articles, reports and letters.

Pledge of Allegiance Resources

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life maintains a list of resources on the pledge of allegiance issue. It provides a brief introduction and links to relevant briefs, court decisions, articles and editorials.

Privacy and Security Law Blog

The law firm, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, maintains this blog on privacy and security law. Lawyers comment on events in the news and legal developments, such as court decisions and state or federal legislation. The blog has an RSS feed and e-mail alert service for keeping up with new postings. The topics links on the home page take you directly to related commentary. You will also find this subject index in the site map.

Religion Clause

Howard M. Friedman, a retired professor of law who founded the CyberSecurities Law Institute at University of Toledo, authors this blog on freedom of religion. He comments on news stories and legal developments with links to original sources. He also offers an extensive list of resources.

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free legal assistance to journalists. Covering issues like prior restraints, secret courts, libel, freedom of information and confidentiality, the Web site provides full-text news stories authored by the RCFP. 

Reporters Without Borders

Site provides guidance for speaking out online, as well as country-specific reports on press censorship.