Hallmark of a democratic society
The Constitution's framers believe that freedom of inquiry and free expression were the hallmarks of a democratic society. But historically—during times of national stress, real or imagined—First Amendment rights come under enormous pressure. The best way to counter noxious speech is with more speech. Persuasion, not coercion, is the solution.
Protecting (even obnoxious) speech from government suppression.
“Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom.” —U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo in Palko v. Connecticut Protecting free speech means protecting a free press, the democratic process, diversity of thought, and so much more. The ACLU has worked since 1920 to ensure that freedom of speech is protected for everyone. The First Amendment exists precisely to protect the most offensive and controversial speech from government suppression.