Freedom of Assembly

From women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement, the United States has been shaped by protests. Yet in recent years, peaceful protesters have faced new legal and practical challenges. As part of our U.S. Program, ICNL works to protect and promote the right to freedom of assembly. Our protest law tracker records and analyzes proposed and enacted state and federal legislation that would limit this right. We also produce briefers analyzing the types of anti-protest bills under consideration, track trends affecting freedom of assembly, and engage in international forums to provide an expert voice about the U.S. experience.

U.S. Protest Law Tracker

Find out more about proposed state and federal laws that could restrict the right to assembly.

Reforms to Protect Protest Rights

In the wake of complaints about law enforcement’s response to the George Floyd protests, reforms have been proposed to better protect the freedom of assembly. This resource page provides examples.

Legislative Briefers on the Right to Protest

Our legislative briefers analyze legal issues in specific types of bills that either restrict or promote protest rights.

International Resources

Freedom of Assembly: Explore resources on this topic produced by ICNL and a variety of international experts, including international obligations and standards and resources on practical aspects of freedom of assembly around the world.

UN Experts Condemn Peaceful Crackdown on Peaceful Protest in the United States (2020)

Report of UN Special Rapporteur on Freedoms of Assembly and Association on Country Visit to the United States (2017)

Other Resources

Protecting Dissent: The Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, Civil Disobedience, and Partial First Amendment Protection, Cornell Law Review (2022)

A Proposal to Repair the Freedom of Peaceful Assembly (2020)

Ensuring All Voices are Heard: Guidelines for Policing Post-Election Protests, ICNL’s US Program team (2020)

The Danger of Anti-Riot Acts, an opinion piece in NBC THINK by ICNL’s Nick Robinson (2020)

ICNL briefer on prohibiting “less lethal weapons” at protests (2020)

ICNL one-page overview explaining critical infrastructure laws and how they can be used to limit freedom of assembly (2020)

ICNL Letter to the National Park Service (2018)

Global Trend: Restrictions on the Right to Protest in the United States (2018)

ICNL Submission to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the right to peaceful assembly in the United States (2017)