ACLU
Pros and Cons
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Last updated on: 3/12/2014 7:50:40 AM PST

Is the ACLU Good for America?


PRO (yes) CON (no)
Anthony D. Romero, JD, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, was quoted on May 1, 2001 as having said the following during his official statement upon appointment of his position at the ACLU:
"The ACLU is the only organization that can serve as a wholesale bulwark against attacks on our civil liberties. While most civil rights and civil liberties organizations focus on a specific issue or a particular constituency, the ACLU is the only organization that defends all of our constitutional liberties and the rights of all Americans."

May 1, 2001 - Anthony D. Romero, JD 

Sanford Levinson, JD, PhD, Professor of Law and Politics at the University of Texas, wrote the following position in a Mar. 28, 2007 email sent to ProCon.org:
"I of course believe that the ACLU is good for America, even if I happen to disagree on occasion with some of the specific positions taken by the organization. It has, by and large, vigorously defended the civil liberties of unpopular minorities and thus provides a valuable 'pushback' against a government disinclined to ask questions about the legitimacy of its own (mis)conduct."

Mar. 28, 2007 - Sanford Levinson, JD, PhD 

Stephen Carter, JD, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University, wrote in his May 1, 2006 article "The ACLU Is Not Evil," in Christianity Today:
"I would like to say a word in defense of the American Civil Liberties Union... I shudder when fellow Christians blithely dismiss the organization as fundamentally biased against them. Some call it the Anti-Christian Liberals Union or the Anti-Christian Litigation Unit. There are other, less friendly acronyms as well. I think the ACLU is wrong to oppose religious expression in the public square, but being wrong is not the same as being evil.

More to the point, the ACLU is often right about the First Amendment's free exercise clause, taking on fights that others refuse. It might surprise some critics that the ACLU defends the free speech and free exercise rights of, well, Christians...

The next time a fellow Christian disparages the ACLU, try answering with something like this: 'Sure, they're on the wrong side sometimes, but I thank God for the times when they're right.'"

May 1, 2006 - Stephen Carter, JD 

Judy Kutulas, PhD, Associate Professor of History, American Studies, Media Studies, and Women's Studies at St. Olaf College, wrote in her 2006 book The American Civil Liberties Union and the Making of Modern Liberalism, 1930-1960:
"Liberals may not appreciate all it does, but... the ACLU provides key checks and balances on which our government is based. There has been no drop-off for the organization in polls. In fact, membership has actually grown since 9/11. More Americans than ever seem to understand the Union's nonpartisan mission. It has become the professional, respected institution earlier generations of leaders wanted."

2006 - Judy Kutulas, PhD 

Sheila Suess Kennedy, JD, Professor and Director of Public Affairs Programs in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, wrote in her 1997 book What's a Nice Republican Girl Like Me Doing in the ACLU?:
"If liberty is something we value, prudence requires that we limit the ability of the state to interfere with a citizen's personal or economic choices... This is the underlying libertarian message of the ACLU and its mission to preserve the individual rights outlined in the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights. From flag-burning to boys wearing earrings in school, from defending topless bars to upholding the right of Nazis to march down Main Street, from defending pornography against legal attacks to maintaining the line that separates church and state..., the ACLU, as 'Liberty's Lawyer,' will fight for individual rights whenever the state or the majority place them in jeopardy."

1997 - Sheila Suess Kennedy, JD 

Reclaim Democracy, a nonprofit organization with the mission "to build democracy through education, activism, and collaboration," wrote the following information in a Jan. 23, 2003 'sign-on' letter addressed to the ACLU Board of Directors titled "Bestowing Bill of Rights Protections on Corporations Undermines the Rights of Humans":
"For more than 80 years the work done by the American Civil Liberties Union has been of immeasurable value in protecting and extending freedom and democracy. Perhaps its greatest contribution has been in its advocacy of First Amendment rights. Few people realize the crucial role ACLU has had in the establishment of the free speech protections that many Americans mistakenly believe has been theirs since the founding of the nation."

Jan. 23, 2003 - ReclaimDemocracy.org 

Samuel Walker, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, was quoted as having said the following in an ExtraMile.us article written about ACLU founding director Roger Baldwin (accessed Jan. 16, 2009):
"Respect for civil liberties is not a natural impulse, certainly not in American society with its seething religious, ethnic and racial tensions... The ACLU history is eloquent testimony to the fact that the principles in the Bill of Rights acquire flesh and blood only when someone fights for them."

Jan. 16, 2009 - Samuel Walker, PhD 

Bill Baird, Founder of Pro-Choice League, made the following comment during an Aug. 1, 2006 phone interview with ProCon.org:
"Far more important than law suits, the ACLU is a teaching instrument. The ACLU is part of the social fabric, it teaches America what civil rights are all about."

Aug. 1, 2006 - Bill Baird 

T. Jeremy Gunn, PhD, JD, Director of the ACLU Program on Religion and Belief, wrote the following statements in a Dec. 12, 2006 email sent to ProCon.org:
"Religion is pervasive in the public square in the United States - and it is constitutionally protected. The ACLU has long defended individuals, families, and religious communities who wish to manifest their religion in public. Particularly when compared to other industrialized democracies, religion plays a prominent role in American public life. Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, cathedrals, and Gurdwaras are plainly visible in the public sphere and their right to display religious symbols and to construct religious edifices is protected by the Constitution and by statutes. The ACLU has actively supported the right of people to preach their religion in public places and to go door-to-door to spread their religious messages."

Dec. 12, 2006 - T. Jeremy Gunn, PhD, JD 

Austin Cline, MA, Agnosticism/Atheism guide for About.com, wrote the following opinion in an Oct. 8, 2004 About.com article titled "ACLU: Most Obnoxious Group in America?":
"The ACLU has consistently defended the rights of Christians to worship as their religion and conscience dictates, often against the attempts by other Christians to infringe upon those rights by having certain forms of Christianity privileged by the government. The ACLU has also consistently fought against the privileging of any one religion or any one sect over others."

Oct. 8, 2004 - Austin Cline, MA 

Aryeh Neier, JD, President of the Open Society Institute and former National Executive Director of the ACLU, wrote the following statements in his book Defending My Enemy, published in 1979:
"From its founding in 1920, the primary purpose of the American Civil Liberties Union has been to defend freedom of speech... The ACLU, therefore, feels obliged to defend any group denied the freedom to speak... Many of the ACLU's battles in the noble cause of freedom of speech have been waged on behalf of despicable clients... [Because] abridgements of freedom are directed first against the most universally despised."

1979 - Aryeh Neier 

A. Schneider, retired US Air Force Captain, wrote the following statements in a letter to The Retired Officer Magazine, that they published in their June 2002 issue:
"Far from attacking religious liberty, the ACLU is the premier organization in this country working to preserve religious liberty. It does this by making sure that no religious beliefs get mixed up with government in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The United States was not founded as a Christian country. Many of the founders were deists who had good knowledge of the persecution (mostly by Christians against other Christians) that can occur when religion gets mixed up in government. They wanted the U.S. government to be secular and totally neutral with respect to religion, hence the First Amendment. The ACLU works hard to maintain that separation of church and state."

June 2002 - A. Schneider 

Bob Barr, JD, Lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project, was quoted as having said in a Dec. 2003 Reason.com interview:
"I had always known them [the ACLU] to be a very, very consistent advocate for civil liberties, but we disagreed on so many issues that I never really sought them out in terms of an ally. But shortly after I came up to the Congress, I realized - and I think they realized the same thing - that the size of government and the expansiveness of government power were creating a smaller sphere of personal liberty and personal privacy, and that we needed to find allies in this fight, and work together on those issues in which we agree and agree to disagree on the other issues."

Dec. 2003 - Bob Barr, JD 

Burton Caine, JD, former President of the ACLU Greater Philadelphia Branch, published the following statement on the ACLU Philadelphia website (accessed June 26, 2012):
"As an active member of the ACLU for over 50 years including President of the Greater Philadelphia Branch and member of the Pennsylvania state board and several national committees, I have always cherished my membership in the foremost civil rights organization in the nation."

Sep. 29, 2006 - Burton Caine, JD 

Angela Bonavoglia, MSW, freelance journalist, sent the following statement in an Aug. 30, 2007 email to ProCon.org:
"Is the ACLU good for America? Absolutely."

Aug. 30, 2007 - Angela Bonavoglia, MSW 

Elaine Cassel, JD, Professor of Law at Concord University School of Law, wrote the following position in a 2004 opinion piece titled "ACLU's Rejoinder to John Ashcroft: Setting the Record Straight on the PATRIOT ACT," published on OpEdNews.com:
"Visit the ACLU website to learn more about its vigilance in protecting all of our civil liberties. The organization's tireless attorneys and analysts have their hands full trying to keep one step ahead of Ashcroft and his editors of the Constitution."

2004 - Elaine Cassel, JD 

Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona, was quoted as having said the following during a Dec. 22, 2006 interview with the Arizona Capitol Times:
"I do think there is a lot of misinformation out there that the ACLU is out of the mainstream, that we're a radical left wing group. We're an organization that's been around for 86 years. We're essentially a conservative organization. We defend the fundamental principles that are outlined in the Constitution and we do so for everyone regardless of their political inclinations, their sexual orientation, their national origins, and so I think because of that we tackle very unpopular causes. We represent people who espouse racist beliefs, people who have committed heinous crimes. We can't really pick and choose who our clients are."

Dec. 22, 2006 - Alessandra Soler Meetze 

Douglas A. Fraser, former President of the United Auto Workers, was quoted as having said the following comment in 1992 by the ACLU in its briefing paper titled "Guardian of Liberty: American Civil Liberties Union":
"The ACLU's 60-year guardianship of the Bill of Rights has done much to advance the cause of working men and women."

1992 - Douglas A. Fraser 

Nadine Strossen, JD, former National President of the ACLU, wrote the following information in an introductory article of the ACLU's 2004 Annual Report titled "The Courage to Speak Out":
"[W]e [the ACLU] speak in measured, informed and nonpartisan ways - criticizing specific aspects of government actions that violate neutral civil liberties principles. People understand that what drives us is justice, not ideology."

2004 - Nadine Strossen, JD 

Raul Cano, Bowling Green University alumnus, wrote the following statements in a Sep. 24, 2004 guest column for bgnews.com titled "Establishment Clause Misread":
"The ACLU is not anti-religion, it just takes offense when the coercive forces of the state are used to push religion on the people of this country... If the government was to ever try to get the Catholic League, the Christian Coalition, or the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] off the internet, you can be sure that the ACLU would come to their aid."

Sep. 24, 2004 - Raul Cano 

Kurt Vonnegut, MA, award-winning author of Slaughterhouse Five and Cat's Cradle, was quoted by The New York Times as having made the following statement in a Sep. 12, 2003 article titled "Celebrities Line Up To Criticize Bush in ACLU Campaign":
"What I've said again and again is that if any official from a dogcatcher on up treats you in a way which is clearly unconstitutional, don't call the FBI, call the ACLU."

Sep. 12, 2003 - Kurt Vonnegut, MA 

George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States, made the following comments during the first Bush-Dukakis presidential debate held at Wake Forest University on Sep. 25, 1988:
"[I] don't agree with a lot of - most of the positions of the ACLU. I simply don't want to see the ratings on movies [removed]. I don't want my ten year old grandchild to go into an X-rated movie. I like those ratings systems. I don't think they're right to try to take the tax exemption away from the Catholic Church. I don't want to see the kiddie pornographic laws repealed; I don't want to see 'under God' come out from our currency. Now, these are all positions of the ACLU. And I don't agree with them."

Sep. 25, 1988 - George H. W. Bush 

Gordon Bishop, syndicated columnist, wrote the following comments in his Sep. 25, 2005 article titled "ACLU Must Lose Its Tax-Exempt Status," published by the Atlantic Highlands Herald:
"The ACLU no longer represents the best interests in America, but the worst interests, from pedophiles and sex offenders, to Marxists and Communists. The ACLU has become an ugly destructive force undermining the greatest nation civilization has ever known."

Sep. 25, 2005 - Gordon Bishop 

Chuck Norris, action film actor and columnist, wrote the following opinion in his Dec. 11, 2006 article published by WorldDailyNet.com, titled "ACLU: The Abolishing Christian Legacy Union":
"The ACLU will assure Muslim clerics and imams the right to pray on planes, fight for an atheist's rights to remove a cross, stand beside pro-abortionists, help illegal aliens cross our borders, and establish rights for the sexual deviant by forming the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, but what is it doing for Christians and Christmas censorship?

While allegedly fighting against the tyranny of the majority, the ACLU itself rules religiously by litigation, lobbying, and supporting counter-culture Christian movements. So who died and appointed the ACLU as America's religious constitutional watchdog? Membership for the ACLU is only 500,000. America's population is 300 million. I think it's time that we helped them feel their size!"

Dec. 11, 2006 - Chuck Norris 

Bill O'Reilly, TV and Radio host, made the following comments during the Mar. 1, 2005 airing of his talk show The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
"This ACLU has no strategy to fight the war on terror at all. Everything the United States government does - everything - they oppose. So look, I'm declaring war on the ACLU. I think they're a terrorist group. They're terrorizing me and my family. They're terrorizing me. I think they're terrorists."

Mar. 1, 2005 - Bill O'Reilly 

Matthew Vadum, Senior Editor at Capital Research Center, wrote in his Sep. 2009 article "What Does the 'A' Really Stand For?," in Townhall:
"The ACLU’s intellectual incoherence seems to stem from the views of its principal founder and longtime leader, Roger Nash Baldwin. The group was founded in 1920 by Baldwin, an avowed anarchist, pacifist and Communist... Nowadays the ACLU stumbles from controversy to controversy, roughly following Baldwin’s playbook. It defends terrorists, illegal aliens and child molesters, while letting law-abiding Americans and victims of reverse racism fend for themselves."

Sep. 2009 - Matthew Vadum 

Aryeh Spero, Rabbi and President of Caucus for America, wrote the following statements in a Mar. 17, 2005 article titled "Everything's a 'Civil Rights' Issue," posted on HumanEvents.com:
"Any neutral observer can't help but see the blatant selectivity groups such as the ACLU use when deciding whose 'rights' are worthy of defense, concerned, apparently, not for ordinary law-abiding citizens but mostly the hardened criminals, illegal aliens and, now, terrorists. The Non-American Civil Liberties Union is a more apt description of their mission."

Mar. 17, 2005 - Aryeh Spero 

Nedd Kareiva, Founder and Director of Stop the ACLU Coalition, wrote in his Nov. 10, 2005 article "Top Ten Reasons to Stop the ACLU" on stoptheaclu.com:
"There are many reasons to stop the ACLU... The ACLU was founded by Communist [sic], with communist ideals, communist goals, and they continue to impose a Communist like agenda on America daily... The ACLU does not believe in the Second Amendment... The ACLU are pro-death. Not only is the ACLU Pro-abortion, it’s the ACLU’s top priority. It most definitely takes a backseat to free speech for the ACLU. As a matter of fact, the ACLU has fought against the free speech rights of those that oppose it. If its abortion or euthanasia, as long as its pro-death you can count on the ACLU to support it. The only exception to the ACLU’s pro-death stance, is if it is a convicted criminal; in this case they are against death...

The ACLU Opposes National Security. The ACLU have opposed almost every effort in the arena of national security. From the bird flu to bag searches, the ACLU have been against it. No matter what kind of search someone tries to do to protect people, the ACLU have proved they are against them across the board... There are countless reasons the ACLU needs to be stopped. So don’t just stand by and complain, do something."

Nov. 10, 2005 - Nedd Kareiva 

Mary Meehan, writer and public speaker, wrote the following statements in her article "ACLU v. Unborn Children," published in 2001 by Human Life Review:
"[T]he ACLU's biggest problem is not its failure to live up to outsiders' standards. It sometimes violates its own traditions and principles in a radical way. This is especially true of its long and relentless campaign against the right to life of unborn children... The defender of free speech helps ensure that millions of human beings will never have a chance to speak - or to exercise freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right of assembly, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances."

2001 - Mary Meehan 

Alan Sears, JD, President, CEO and General Counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund, wrote the following statements in his Oct. 13, 2005 article titled "The ACLU's Enthusiasm for Death," published by WorldDaily.net:
"The ACLU couches its aggressive activities... as a noble struggle for 'reproductive freedom.' But it's hard to classify any freedom as 'reproductive' that despises unborn children and endorses their savage destruction up to the moment when all but their skull has emerged from the womb. Indeed, it's hard to credit as 'freedom' a movement so single-minded in its determination to silence, even punish, so many expressions of alternative viewpoints... How can any organization be so vocally committed to happiness and 'freedom' but yet be so deeply opposed to recognizing the infinite value of - and the right to - life itself?"

Oct. 13, 2005 - Alan Sears, JD 

Michael Novak, Director of Social and Political Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote the following statements in a July 12, 2002 article "The Atheist Civil-Liberty Union?," published by the National Review Online:
"The American Civil Liberties Union has a public agenda, and that agenda appears to be this: to make the United States in all her public manifestations reflect an atheist's view of the nation's Founding and continuing existence."

July 12, 2002 - Michael Novak 

Ken McElroy, blogger at Ken McElroy Online, wrote the following opinion in the Oct. 20, 2001 article "God Bless the ACLU," posted on his website Ken.McElroyOnline.com:
"[T]he primary objective of the secularists [the ACLU] is not to protect individual rights by interpreting the Bill of Rights in a consistent way, but to further their own agenda by interpreting the Constitution narrowly or broadly depending on what they like or don't like... "

Oct. 20, 2001 - Ken McElroy 

Debbie Schlussel, JD, political commentator, wrote the following statements in her Sep. 15, 2000 article "Pedophilia Good, Religion, Bad?" published by Jewish World Review:
"[T]he radical, minority ACLU is picking which type of speech will really be free for America. That deviant, offensive speech, like flag burning, nude dancing, and instructions on how to build bombs, will be free; But moral, laudable speech, like voluntary prayer, will not. Remember that form of free speech known as silence? It's time for the ACLU to exercise it."

Sep. 15, 2000 - Debbie Schlussel, JD 

Stop the ACLU, a non-profit devoted to opposing the ACLU, wrote in its Jan. 10, 2008 article titled "Time to Vote Out the ACLU" on stoptheaclu.org:
"...[I]t sounds like I’m beating a dead horse each time I say we need to get rid of the ACLU but I will say it again, we must do so.  I am sick and damn tired of this organization challenging every law they don’t like that our elected officials put in place. And let me be on the record once again saying this: the ACLU must be removed from America and its agenda extinguished from our midst."

Jan. 10, 2008 - StoptheACLU.com 

Joseph Farah, Editor and CEO of World Net Daily, wrote the following statements, in the Aug. 17, 2004 article titled "The Corporatistas," published by WorldNetDaily.com:
"Generally speaking, [the ACLU] is a terribly subversive organization. It is a clear and present danger to national security and the long-term health of our free republic."

Aug. 17, 2004 - Joseph Farah 

Mark H. Creech, Reverend and Executive Director of the Christian Action League, wrote the following statement in "Protecting Christian Health-Care Providers," published by Agape Press (OneNewsNow.com) on Mar. 1, 2005:
"For Americans of conscience, I believe the ACLU and others like them are public enemy number one."

Mar. 1, 2005 - Mark H. Creech 

Jessica Gavora, former Senior Policy Advisor to Attorney General John Ashcroft, wrote the following statements in "The Quota Czars," published in the May/June 1997 issue of Policy Review:
"The ACLU betrays its historic commitment to individual liberties by defending racial preferences. The ACLU has some smart lawyers. The problem is they don't seem to realize - or care - that their tactics and objectives represent a betrayal of their historic mission."

May/June 1997 - Jessica Gavora 

Tom Kranawitter, PhD, former Vice-President of the Claremont Institute, wrote in the June 9, 2004 Claremont Institute article titled "LA County's Seal and the Real Agenda of the ACLU" that:
"[A]s Washington worried about the prospect of America losing religion and morality, the ACLU delights in it. As its record shows, the ACLU will not rest until every remnant of moral faith has been jettisoned from the public square and the public mind."

June 9, 2004 - Tom Kranawitter, PhD 

Phil Kent, Executive Director of the American Immigration Control Foundation, wrote in "Rein in the ACLU; Trying to Steal America's History," published on Dec. 14, 2004 by The Washington Times, that:
"The ACLU is attempting to steal our Judeo-Christian history so it can steal our country. Citizen pressure needs to be applied to force Congress to use every weapon at its disposal - including its Article III power to define jurisdiction of federal courts, a constitutional amendment, regulations to enforce existing laws, and the withholding of taxpayers' money from counties or states that try undermining our Judeo-Christian heritage."

Dec. 14, 2004 - Phil Kent  

Devvy Kidd, Founder and Director of the Project on Winning Economic Reform (POWER), wrote in the June 7, 2004 article titled "ACLU Demands LA County Remove Cross From Official Seal," and published by NewsWithViews.com, that:
"It is... shameful that elected public servants continue to cave into threats and strong-arming by the ACLU... Can they not see this relentless attack on Christianity by the Godless ACLU is the pursuit of communism under the guise of 'violation of the First Amendment'?"

June 7, 2004 - Devvy Kidd 

The American Taxpayer Party, a political party created for the 2008 presidential election, wrote in its 2006 article "ACLU" on taxpayerparty.com:
"...[M]ost American Taxpayers are quite ignorant of the ACLU, it's socialist founder Roger Baldwin, it's communist beginnings and it's questionable agenda through the years. It's no wonder. They have done a superb job of not advertising who their founders were and what their real intentions were.... [H]ow have they been able to put on an air of red, white and blue while at the same time undermining everything that America really stands for?"

2006 - American Taxpayer Party 

Kevin McCullough, radio talk show host, wrote in the Dec. 2, 2005 WorldNetDaily.com article titled "'Merry Christmas' to the ACLU," that:
"The ACLU has taken it upon themselves - as a badge of honor, if you will - to attempt to systematically expunge the terms, definitions, and in many cases the symbols of the holiday... Through threats, intimidation and - in increasing numbers of actual cases of litigation - the anti-God organization leads the charge."

Dec. 2, 2005 - Kevin McCullough 

Sheldon Richman, Senior Fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, posted the following comments to the History News Network discussion board on June 19, 2004:
"The ACLU is worse than AWOL on the preventive detention of law-abiding people branded 'mentally ill and dangerous to themselves or others.' It enthusiastically supports such an atrocity as the 'right to treatment.' Sadly, the Bill of Rights is not for them. And let's not forget that the ACLU is unaware that something comes between the First and Third Amendments."

June 19, 2004 - Sheldon Richman 

Alliance Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "provide legal defense and advocacy of religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and traditional family values," wrote the following on its website (accessed June 26, 2012):
"Far from the noble protector of our constitutional rights many Americans believe it to be, the ACLU has from its earliest days deliberately and patiently chipped away at the legal, moral, and religious foundations of our Republic"

June 27, 2006 - Alliance Defending Freedom 

California Patriot, an independent journal published at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote the following statements in their Dec. 2004 issue:
"The framers of the Constitution were religious men who wanted to be able to practice religion without interference. Ironically, it is not the government that is obstructing the free practice of religion; it is the ACLU."

Dec. 2004 - California Patriot 

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