Welcome to the Institute for Free Speech.
We began in 2005 as a small nonprofit called the Center for Competitive Politics. Years of growth have transformed us into a national leader on free speech issues, but now it’s time for a change. We are pleased to introduce you to the Institute for Free Speech along with our new logo, revised website, and new web address. We hope you will continue to support us as we promote and defend the political rights to free speech, press, assembly, and petition guaranteed by the First Amendment.
While our name is new, our mission hasn’t changed. We go to court to help clients protect their rights and set new precedents. We work with government officials to craft laws that expand free political speech rights consistent with the Constitution. We produce research on which we build a strong case for political speech rights. We communicate with and educate the public, legislators, organizations, and the media to enable every American to understand the importance of the First Amendment’s political speech freedoms. Our many successes in these areas have served to expand free speech protections for individuals and organizations around the country. All of these efforts will continue.
Yet our old name often confused people about our objectives, especially those who are not familiar with our work. The name Institute for Free Speech will clearly convey our mission to longtime supporters and newcomers alike.
When the Center for Competitive Politics was founded, political free speech rights were in retreat. The repressive McCain-Feingold law had been almost entirely upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, and regulators felt emboldened to push even further. It was a bleak time for the First Amendment.
Thanks in part to our efforts, advocates for free political speech rights soon regained the momentum. Starting with the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL) v. Federal Election Commission, free political speech found new life. Limits on the ability to speak about elections began to erode. Our successes culminated in 2010 with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in SpeechNow.org v. FEC. We organized the amicus brief efforts on the former and were co-counsel with our friends at the Institute for Justice on the latter.
But these victories also triggered a new wave of regulations. Today, most of the threats to free speech come less from direct prohibitions than from arcane laws and regulations that suffocate speech at every level of government. These laws are so convoluted that people often need a lawyer in order to speak.
We have also made it a priority to fight efforts to violate donor privacy rights. Such laws enable harassment of individuals and organizations that choose to speak out about powerful government officials. As the Institute for Free Speech, we look forward to fighting these threats head-on.
To join us in this fight, please donate here.
We hope you will join the Institute for Free Speech in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. In the meantime, we encourage you to explore our website, sign up for our daily Media Update, and read our reports, articles, and blog posts on free speech issues.
The Center for Competitive Politics was just the beginning. We are excited to begin a new era – the era of the Institute for Free Speech.
Bradley A. Smith David Keating
Founder and Chairman President