The ACLU of West Virginia will not stand idly by if government officials try to unconstitutionally silence speech or peaceful protests – including those in support of Palestine, Gaza, or Muslim people in the state.

Across the country, we have seen police crackdowns on protests and student groups ordered to be deactivated.

Meanwhile, McCarthyism is alive and well as politicians push an aggressive investigation into pro-Palestine advocacy, focusing on college campuses and extending even to labor unions. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has requested that the FBI launch a similar investigation.

The First Amendment applies to all of us, including (and we would argue especially) those whose positions do not align with the government’s political stances. Millions of Americans question whether U.S. tax dollars should be funding Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. Any attempt to silence their voices is patently undemocratic.

While the First Amendment does not govern what a private university can or cannot do, all institutions of higher learning - both private and public - should support students' free expression. The ability to engage in difficult discussions is a cornerstone of democracy and education. 

We’re connected to history and learn from it as we respond to the present. The ACLU acted to protect the Constitution in the wake of Sept. 11, and we resisted former President Trump’s Muslim Ban. Likewise, ACLU-WV will not hesitate to use our legal firepower to defend the free speech rights of West Virginia’s Palestinian community and their supporters.

We vigorously opposed a 2023 bill attacking West Virginians’ constitutionally protected right to boycott Israel. Similarly, we opposed a resolution in the 2024 Session that equated criticizing the state of Israel with antisemitism.

We will also continue to speak out against antisemitic bigotry and encourage schools to protect students from targeted discriminatory harassment and violence.

If a government official has denied your constitutional right to march or protest in solidarity with those being killed in Palestine, or if your public school has refused to allow you to form a group or invite speakers critical of the U.S. government or state of Israel, we want to hear from you.