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Free Expression

CDT Mourns the Passing of Marv Johnson

Free speech lost a devoted defender late last week. Marv Johnson, who had fought to protect free speech at the American Civil Liberties Union for much of his professional career, passed away after a long struggle with illness.

We, and everyone at CDT, mourn the loss of Marv. We will miss his quick wit and sense of humor, teamwork, and his unfailing willingness to step up to the plate when free speech was on the line. And it often is. Once, Marv volunteered to testify at a hearing in the House of Representatives that everyone knew was going to be difficult for the sole witness who was to advocate for free speech. Marv took every arrow and stone that those advocating limits on speech threw at him, and even caught a couple and threw them right back. Sometimes, it takes courage to be a champion of liberty, and Marv demonstrated that courage.

We have fond memories of visits to Capitol Hill with Marv to caution members of Congress about proposed assaults on the First Amendment. In particular, Marv (and we) would relish our visits when accompanied by friends from across the political spectrum – making clear to the folks on the Hill that both liberals and conservatives thought a particular free-speech-impinging bill on the agenda was a bad (and unconstitutional) idea.

We will miss Marv’s insights and dedication to the First Amendment.

— Greg Nojeim and John Morris, Center for Democracy & Technology