We at CCP would like to note the passing of an extraordinary fighter who advocated tirelessly on behalf the First Amendment. Marv Johnson died today at the age of 53. Though he was taken too soon, we think it important to recognize what Marv accomplished while he was still here with us.
Marv served as a Legislative Counsel at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office since 2000. In this capacity, he fought against efforts at the federal level to criminalize, censor, and otherwise inhibit free expression.
At CCP, we will remember Marv best for his steadfast belief that free expression could play a powerful role in politics. We worked closely with Marv in 2006-07 when Congress was considering grassroots lobbying disclosure, which CCP studies showed would have prevented the weakest amongst us from speaking truth to power. The ACLU led a lobbying coalition that defeated the bill. It was a great achievement for that coalition, which would not have been possible without Marv’s leadership and counsel.
For those of us who worked with and for Marv, we will especially miss the optimism, humor, and steady strength he brought to these and other battles. When faced with seemingly insurmountable political and procedural barriers, Marv remained dedicated to the fight. As one of Marv’s friends noted this morning:
Marv was a real fighter for freedom. When others
stepped back, he stepped forward to fight another
day. He was relentless in his willingness to
safeguard our liberty.
In these times when cowardliness is too often the
norm, we can recall Marv’s example and draw strength
from it. If we do, and if we act on that strength,
we can pay tribute to Marv’s memory.
And so, we will do our best to remain equally relentless in our defense of the First Amendment. However, it will be a lonelier battle without Marv by our side. You will be missed, friend.