New York, February 2, 2021 — Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), together with its North Dakota affiliate (ACLU of ND), filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the Thunderhawk plaintiffs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Amicus Curiae or “friend of the court” briefs are filed by third parties with an interest in the litigation, and can carry significant weight with the court when submitted by organizations with expertise in an issue salient to the case — such as with the ACLU and free speech.
The ACLU brief centers on the key issue in this appeal, whether the Thunderhawk plaintiffs have any constitutional right to speak along the public road in question. As the ACLU brief emphasizes, courts across the country have long recognized that roads are “quintessential traditional public forums,” having served as important sites of protest at key points in American history, “from the civil rights marches and anti-war demonstrations of the 1960s and 70s to more recent protests, including marches in opposition to abortion, in support of rural healthcare, and against police brutality.”
Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought,
American Civil Liberties Union Files Amicus Brief in Standing Rock Thunderhawk Litigation,
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/contemporary_critical_thought/2