The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a New York City based non-profit organization which aims to protect people in the United States from civil rights violations. Since the organization is involved in over 6,000 cases each year, it often finds itself defending controversial or unpopular views. The ACLU believes that protecting Constitutional rights is very important, and it hires 300 permanent staff in all 50 states. In addition, the work of the ACLU is supplemented by large numbers of interns and volunteers, including attorneys who offer their services free of charge.
The origins of the ACLU can be found in 1915, when the American Union Against Militarism was founded. In 1917, the organization started the American Civil Liberties Bureau to protect conscientious objectors to the First World War. Roger Nash Baldwin was placed at the head of the organization, which later split off from its parent due to concerns about potentially illegal activities. Baldwin was hounded by the government, which used the Espionage Act to attempt to restrict his free speech rights. In 1920, the Bureau was formally reorganized into the ACLU.
Some people are unaware that the ACLU attempts to be politically neutral. The organization is just as likely to defend the Ku Klux Klan as it is to lobby for the desegregation of schools. In fact, the ACLU often has multiple cases which appear to conflict going on at the same time. Because the ACLU defends and assists people with a wide variety of viewpoints, many people on both the left and right criticize the actions of the organization. The ACLU brings suit in the form of test cases and also assists people with ongoing cases.
Three issues are extremely important to the ACLU. The first is the freedom of expression which is offered to all Americans through the Bill of Rights. The second is equality before the law, and the third is due process of law for all Americans. The ACLU is also concerned with the right to privacy, and this became a major issue in the 2000s when the American government passed several pieces of controversial legislation which undermined this right.
Because several groups within the United States are consistently marginalized, the ACLU has a number of ongoing projects which focus on these populations. These projects include a focus on the poor, people with disabilities, women, minorities, mental health patients, immigrants, prisoners, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community. In addition, the ACLU focuses on several recurring issues including racial segregation, reproductive freedom, and voting rights. The ACLU believes that speaking up for marginalized communities helps to preserve rights for all Americans.
The ACLU has been involved in a number of cases, including the Scopes Monkey Trial, Roe vs. Wade, and Brown vs. The Board of Education. The organization continues to advocate for Americans who believe that their rights have been violated, and it is supported by over 400,000 members, as well as grants from private organizations. Americans who think that they may need the services of the ACLU should contact a local chapter of the organization.