|I. Mission||V. Budget|
|II. Organizational Structure||VI. Membership|
|III. Case Selection||VII. ACLU and States Affiliates’ Links|
|IV. Officers and Senior Staff|
|The ACLU describes itself as “the largest public interest law firm.” Its mission is stated on its website under the title “Guardian of Freedom,” aclu.org (accessed June 28, 2017), as the following:
“The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country…
WHAT THE BILL OF RIGHTS GUARANTEES
We continue to tackle the thorniest issues confronting our nation – racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, and censorship. The ACLU’s mission remains realizing the promise of the Bill of Rights for all and expanding the reach of its guarantees to new areas.”
|II. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE|
|The American Civil Liberties Union is composed of two separate corporate entitites: the ACLU and the ACLU Foundation. The ACLU engages primarily in legislative lobbying while the ACLU Foundation carries out most of the litigation and communication efforts. A contribution to the ACLU Foundation is tax-deductible but does not provide membership privileges. Membership is possible only through a non-tax deductible contribution to the ACLU. The two organizations share office space and employees, and are together commonly referred to as the ACLU.
The ACLU has two main governing bodies: the National Board of Directors and the National Advisory Council. The other two major components are the Affiliates and the Biennial Conference.
In addition, the ACLU implements National Projects to carry out education and litigation on issues of particular concern to the ACLU:
|III. CASE SELECTION|
|The guidelines for affiliates and national staff (as stated in the ACLU’s “Policy Guide”) provide that, in general, the ACLU should select cases that will either create a precedent or implement a prior ruling of the US Supreme Court.
If there is a policy regarding the issue of a case, then the decision to take the case will be made at the state level by either the affiliate’s staff, special lawyers’ committee, or the affiliate Board of Directors. If the case is potentially exceptionally controversial, the staff and the affiliate’s board will hold a consultation.
If there is no policy regarding the issue of a case, the matter will be referred to the appropriate committee of the National Board of Directors who will decide on the policy and will provide a recommendation.
If the matter represents an emergency, the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors will decide whether the ACLU should take the case. In any case, very few decisions are reached by a single individual or without wide consultations and are rarely unanimous.
The ACLU is involved in nearly 6,000 cases per year. It appears before the US Supreme Court more than any other organization except the US Department of Justice.
|IV. OFFICERS and SENIOR STAFF
(as of June 2017)
Deputy Executive Director
(ACLU.org provides combined data for the Foundation and ACLU for 2016.
|ACLU/ACLU Foundation (Fiscal Year 2016)|
78% Grants and Contributions
86% Total Program Services
5% Management and General
|1.6 million members as of May 2017|
|VII. ACLU and STATES AFFILIATES’ LINKS|