THE RIGHT TO PROTEST
The right to protest is a long-standing protection afforded by the U.S. and Texas constitutions. This right is contained both in the freedom of speech and in the freedom to assemble, which protect not only the ability to verbalize protests and engage in symbolic speech such as wearing an armband, but to arrange peaceful marches and protests on certain public lands.
These rights are not unconditional. Because the government has an interest in maintaining peace and public order, it may restrict some protest activities in certain ways.
This Know Your Rights fact sheet is intended for people who want to exercise their right to protest in order to help understand the status of the current law on this topic. However, this sheet does not cover every nuance of the law surrounding protest rights and should not be taken as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, consult an attorney or the ACLU of Texas.
The right to protest is protected by both the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.
The Texas Constitution, in Article I, sections 8 and 27 protects the “liberty to speak, write or publish … opinions on any subject,” and “the right … to assemble.
YOUR RIGHTS IN GENERAL
These provisions protect your right to march, leaflet, parade, picket, circulate petitions and ask for signatures, and other forms of peaceful protest. You have the right to express your views in these ways regardless of how unpopular or controversial they may be.
Although these rights are afforded strong protection, how the rights are exercised may be regulated.
IF YOUR RIGHTS ARE BEING VIOLATED (ACLU)
If you believe that you are being denied your right to protest, visit our legal program page to submit a complaint.