We are always surprised when people ask us, “What, exactly, is the ACLU?” For us, because we are so involved, the answer seems pretty obvious, but simply because of the question, we are led to examine our response.
The ACLU is nearly 100 years old – that is undeniable. It was founded in 1920 by an amazing group of individuals, including Felix Frankfurter, future US Supreme Court Justice.
The mission of the ACLU is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution of the United States.” That it accomplishes by litigation in State and Federal courts on behalf of people whose civil liberties have been denied.
That mission has led the ACLU to successfully secure the rights of interracial couples to marry, the rights of LGBT couples to marry and adopt children, the rights of prisoners to be free from torture, and prevent government preferences for religion over non-religion or favoring certain faiths over others, the protection of individuals to speak out against government agencies and lots, lots, more. The ACLU has done way more than we could possibly list here.
Have you or someone you know been directly affected by the actions of the ACLU? Probably, yes.
Today, the ACLU is the largest and most active organization working to protect us from the actions and proposed actions of the government that are in direct violation of the Constitution.
That is the short version of what the ACLU is.
But, who is the ACLU?
We are the ACLU. Each of us who supports the ACLU with our actions and contributions. Every one of us. Everyone who realizes that separately we can accomplish very little, but together we have strength and power. We are not the litigators, but we support the litigators. We are not the legal scholars or Constitutional experts, but we make their work possible.
We invite each of you to join the ACLU if you are not already among its members.
And we invite you to join us at this year’s Annual Dinner on April 19 to learn more about the “5 Things You Can Do” to work with the ACLU at this critical time in our history.