A History of the ACLU from 1915 to Present
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1915-1917 - Formation of the American Union Against Militarism and the National Civil Liberties Bureau
Roger Baldwin, Director of AUAM and NCLB, in 1970, and Crystal Eastman, AUAM Executive Secretary, circa 1911-1916
Sources: Kris Wilcoz, "Roger Nash Baldwin, Unitarian Co-Founder of ACLU," uuworld.org, July 3, 2017 Wikipedia.org, "Photograph of Crystal Eastman," wikipedia.org (accessed Nov. 13, 2019)
|"In 1915 the American Union Against Militarism (AUAM) was formed to prevent United States involvement in World War I with Crystal Eastman serving as executive secretary. Roger Baldwin became executive director in 1917. Immediately upon United States entry in World War I, the AUAM was inundated with requests for aid to protect free speech, assembly and press which were threatened with political restriction imposed upon U.S. entry into the war and to defend the rights of conscientious objectors. A separate organization was needed to safeguard these rights, and thus the National Civil Liberties Bureau (NCLB) was established in the autumn of 1917 with Roger Baldwin as director."
Ben Primer, PhD "American Civil Liberties Union Records: The Roger Baldwin Years," Princeton University Library website, May 6, 1996
Jan. 20, 1920 - American Civil Liberties Union Is FormedOn Jan. 20, 1920, the NCLB was renamed the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) with Roger Baldwin and Albert DeSilver as Co-Directors. The ACLU had a "Statement of Purpose" which proclaimed that "all thought on matters of public concern should be freely expressed, without interference. Orderly social progress is promoted by unrestricted freedom of opinion." The ACLU dedicated itself to "an aggressive policy of insistence" to support First Amendment rights.
The original national committee of the ACLU included Chairman Harry Ward and members Crystal Eastman, Felix Frankfurter, Jane Addams, Helen Keller, Arthur Garfield Hayes, and Norman Thomas.
1920 - "Palmer Raids" Arrest Immigrant Union Organizers
A. Mitchell Palmer giving a speech, undated image
Source: iconicphotos.wordpress.com (accessed Jan. 17, 2011)
Craig B. Mousin, JD, MDiv "American Civil Liberties Union," Encyclopedia of Business Ethics and Society, 2008
1923 - ACLU's First Permanent Affiliate Is Founded in Southern California
Author Upton Sinclair is arrested for "criminal syndicalism" in 1923
Source: "History: 1923-1940," ACLU of Southern California website (accessed May 9, 2011)
In the wake of the San Pedro strike, Sinclair, already a member of the newly-founded national ACLU in New York, helped to form the first ACLU affiliate... in Los Angeles."
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California "History: 1923-1940," ACLU of Southern California website (accessed May 25, 2011)
Mar. 21, 1925 - Jan. 15, 1927 - Scopes Trial: ACLU Combats Tennessee Anti-Evolution Law
John Scopes during the trial
Source: Smithsonian Institute, "John Scopes," wikipedia.org, May 31, 1925
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) "American Experience: Monkey Trial," Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) website (accessed May 25, 2011)
The Court affirmed [7-2] Gitlow's conviction and upheld the constitutionality of the Act. But conservative Justice Edward T. Sanford held that 'for the present purposes we may and do assume that freedom of speech and of the press... are among the fundamental personal rights and 'liberties' protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the states."
Jan. 1931 - Congressional Committee Report Finds ACLU "Closely Affiliated" with CommunismIn Jan. 1931, the Special Committee to Investigate Communist Activities in the United States, headed by Congressman Hamilton Fish (R-NY), issued the Fish Committee report. The report found the ACLU to be "closely affiliated with the communist movement in the United States, and fully 90% of its efforts on behalf of communists who have come into conflict with the law... Roger N. Baldwin, its guiding spirit, makes no attempt to hide his friendship for the communists and their principles."
Oct. 23, 1939 - HUAC Chairman Declares No ACLU-Communist ConnectionCongressional Representative Martin Dies, Jr. (D-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), "clears" the ACLU of Communist connections. Congressman Dies stated: "This Committee found last year... there was no evidence that the American Civil Liberties Union was a Communist organization."
Jeffrey E. Fuller "40th Anniversary Issue," Civil Liberties, Jan. 1960
Feb. 5, 1940 - 1940 Resolution: ACLU Bars Totalitarian Supporters from Leadership Positions"On February 5, 1940, the [ACLU] board and the National Committee adopted a resolution barring from ACLU leadership positions anyone supporting totalitarianism.
The 1940 Resolution, as it came to be known, declared that... [s]upport for civil liberties 'is inevitably compromised by persons who champion civil liberties in the United States and yet who justify or tolerate the denial of civil liberties by dictatorships abroad' [and that] it was 'inappropriate for any person to serve on the governing committees of the Union or on its staff, who is a member of any political organization which supports totalitarian dictatorship in any country... And, within this category we include organizations in the United States supporting totalitarian governments of the Soviet Union and of the Fascist and Nazi countries'...
The 1940 Resolution provoked an immediate upheaval. [ACLU Chair and Marxist] Harry Ward resigned and was replaced as chair by the fervently anti-Communist John Haynes Holmes... The two California affiliates, along with Chicago and Massachusetts, led a move to rescind the resolution...
When the ACLU board asked [Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, ACLU Co-founder and Communist party leader, and Stalin supporter,] to resign, she refused... [and] asserted that the ACLU board had no right to bar her for her 'political beliefs and affiliations'... [On May 8, 1940, the ACLU board voted 10-9 to remove Flynn from the board.] The antitotalitarian resolution was abolished in 1968, and her supporters... won her posthumous reinstatement to the board in 1976."
Japanese boys at a barbed wire fence in the Manzanar Relocation Camp, undated photo
Source: "Asian Pacific American Heritage Month," Rockford Public Schools website (accessed June 7, 2011)
Diane Garey Defending Everybody: A History of the American Civil Liberties Union, 1998
Fred Korematsu, third from left, with his family.
Source: Bese Staff, "Hidden Figures: Fred Korematsu," bese.com, Sep. 17, 2018
Feifei Sun "Top 10 Landmark Supreme Court Cases," www.time.com, Dec. 13, 2010
1950 - Malin Becomes ACLU Executive Director and ACLU ExpandsIn 1950, Roger Baldwin stepped down as Executive Director. "Baldwin's successor, Patrick Murphy Malin, had been an economics teacher at Swarthmore since 1930, but was also vice-director of the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees in World War II..., president of the National Council on Religion in Higher Education, and a consultant to the State Department on foreign affairs...
He ran a tight, efficient, productive office, and did a brilliant job of increasing membership - the ACLU had about eight thousand members in 1950 and more than thirty thousand in 1955."
Diane Garey Defending Everybody: A History of the American Civil Liberties Union, 1998
1950s - ACLU Opposes Loyalty Oaths"To compel political conformity, a mania for loyalty oaths swept the country. [By 1953] there were oaths in thirty-nine states, the federal government, and many local governments. Most resembled the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which required labor union officials to swear 'I am not a member of the Communist party or affiliated with such party'... The ACLU affiliates led the opposition to the oaths in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Illinois, and California... There were only occasional court victories: The [US Supreme] Court overturned an Oklahoma loyalty oath on narrow grounds in 1952 [Wieman v. Updegraff, Dec. 15, 1952], and the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld an ACLU challenge to a state loyalty oath for political candidates [Imbrie v. Marsh, 1950]."
May 17, 1954 - Brown v. Board of Education: End of School Segregation
Headline announcing the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education
Source: "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas," Library of Congress website (accessed June 20, 2011)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "Fighting for Racial Justice," ACLU website (accessed June 8, 2011)
1959 - ACLU Publishes "Secret Detention by the Police" Study"In the early 1950s, the ACLU of Illinois began a campaign against illegal detention by local police and other law enforcement agencies in the state. In 1959, the organization published a study entitled Secret Detention by the Chicago Police, which exposed the police practice of arresting suspects and holding them for 17 or more hours, moving them out of reach of attorneys and beating them in hopes of eliciting a confession. The report had an enormous national impact, and copies were requested by police departments across the country as well as by Supreme Court Justices William O. Douglas and Tom Clark. The report was considered influential in a landmark Supreme Court ruling in the next decade, Escobedo v. Illinois [June 22, 1964], which held that the police cannot continue to interrogate a suspect after he has indicated that he wants to consult with his attorney."
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "90 Years of Protecting Your Liberty," ACLU website (accessed June 8, 2011)
1960 - Operation Abolition, House Un-American Activities Committee Documentary, and Operation Correction, ACLU's Response Documentary
Operation Abolition (top) and
Operation Correction (bottom), 1960
Source: "Operation Abolition and Operation Correction," Seely G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University website, Oct. 19, 2010
"Operation Abolition, a 1960 documentary produced by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (a.k.a. House Un-American Activities Committee or HUAC), focused on an incident on May 13, 1960 when the Committee convened in San Francisco’s City Hall. While the committee met, students protested in the hallways and outside the building, leading to clashes with the police and the arrest of 64 students. Operation Abolition shows footage of the incident taken from subpoenaed San Francisco TV station newsreels, using that footage to allege that the students were Communists and/or instigated by Communist agents...
John DeLooper, MLIS "Operation Abolition and Operation Correction," Seely G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University website, Oct. 19, 2010
June 19, 1961 - ACLU Files Brief in Mapp v. Ohio: Extending Federal Exclusionary Rule to States
Source: Cleveland Memory.org, "Mapp v. Ohio - 367 U.S. 643 (1961)," clevelandmemory.org (accessed Nov. 13, 2019)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "90 Years of Protecting Your Liberty," ACLU website (accessed June 9, 2011)
1962 - Pemberton Succeeds Malin as Executive Director"Jack Pemberton succeeded Malin as executive director in 1962. During [Pemberton's] tenure, the ACLU at long last took the lead in dismantling the Red-hunting apparatus of the late 1940s and 1950s, winning cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that made it impossible for the congressional investigating committees to function, sharply limiting security checks, and invalidating loyalty oaths. Many of these cases were brought by the state affiliates of the ACLU, but, under Pemberton, they had the support of the national office's legal department and it director, Mel Wulf."
Aryeh Neier Taking Liberties: Four Decades in the Struggle for Rights, 2003
Mar. 18, 1963 - Gideon v. Wainwright: Guaranteed Right to an Attorney
Clarence Earl Gideon, undated photo
Source: Wikipedia.org, "Clarence Earl Gideon," wikipedia.org (accessed Nov. 20, 2019)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "90 Years of Protecting Your Liberty," ACLU website (accessed Feb. 25, 2011)
1964 - Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee (LCDC) Is Created"The ACLU made its greatest contribution to the entire civil rights movement by providing lawyers to handle the huge number of cases, averting a serious crisis in legal representation. Mel Wulf, the ACLU’s legal director at the time, searched the South for cooperating attorneys. He found that 'those working for civil rights do so in an underground atmosphere.' ACLU Executive Director Jack Pemberton decided the ACLU should step into the breach.
[In 1964] the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee (LCDC) was formed and became the main instrument of the ACLU’s activities. Henry Schwarzschild, its director, kept a desk at the ACLU office and from there recruited lawyers and raised money."
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "A Bond Forged in Struggle," ACLU website (accessed Feb. 22, 2011)
June 13, 1966 - Miranda v. Arizona: Reading of Rights Upon Arrest
Ernesto Miranda (right) with attorney John J. Flynn (left), in Phoenix in 1967
Source: Liane J. Jackson, "Turning Miranda 'Upside Down'?," ABA Journal website, Sep. 1, 2010
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona "Accomplishments: ACLU of Arizona: 1959-Present," ACLU of Arizona website (accessed June 9, 2011)
Jan. - June 1968 - Defense of Dr. Spock Splits ACLU on Civil Disobedience Policy
Dr. Benjamin Spock (center, front) leading a march to the United Nations to demand a cease-fire in Vietnam in 1965
Source: "Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement 1954-1985" PBS website (accessed May 18, 2011)
Allen Rostron, JD "Inside the ACLU: Activism and Anti-Communism in Late 1960s," New England Law Review, Winter 1999
June 1970 - ACLU Announces Opposition to Vietnam War"In the wake of the invasion of Cambodia in April [April 30, 1970] and the Kent State massacre in May [May 4, 1970], pressure to oppose the war became overwhelming. Most of the ACLU's leaders fiercely opposed the war... Despite resistance by a few moderate holdouts arguing 'that ACLU should defend those whose civil liberties have been abridged but that no statement about the war in Indochina itself should be made by an organization which is non-political,' the board approved a statement [during a June 1970 meeting] declaring that the Vietnam War 'had a highly detrimental effect on civil liberties.'
The statement contained a brief checklist of civil liberties deprivations attributable to the war, such as conscription, curtailed academic freedom, inhibition of dissent and free expression, the Kent State shootings, urban neglect, and military domination of public policy. The board then voted to condemn the war as a violation of the Constitution, as well as civil liberties, based on the President's usurpation of the power to declare war... The ACLU's Executive Director Jack Pemberton acknowledged that the board's decision to oppose the war marked a 'major departure' from the organization's traditional role."
Allen Rostron, JD "Inside the ACLU: Activism and Anti-Communism in the Late 1960s," New England Law Review, Winter 1999
Oct. 1970 - Aryeh Neier Appointed Executive Director"Aryeh Neier's appointment in [Oct.] 1970 as the ACLU's executive director marked the advent of the 'new' ACLU. Neier consolidated what had been developing over the past five years: the new civil liberties issues, direct legal representation, and grant-funded special projects...
Neier wasted no time transforming the ACLU... Reliance on grant-funded 'special projects' became a major element of the new ACLU under Neier. The Prisoners' Rights Project, the Reproductive Freedom Project, and the Voter Rights Project became the centers of legal expertise on their respective subjects."
June 30, 1971 - ACLU Files Amicus Brief Opposing Injunction of Pentagon Papers
July 1, 1971 New York Times headline announcing the Supreme Court decision in New York Times v. United States
Source: "Wikileaks: The Afghanistan War's 'Pentagon Papers?'," Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress website (access
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "90 Years of Protecting Your Liberty," ACLU website (accessed Mar. 14, 2011)
Nov. 22, 1971 - Ruth Bader Ginsburg Key Figure in ACLU's Women's Rights Projects and Reed v. Reed"In 1970, ACLU board members... called on the ACLU to abandon its emphasis on the Fourteenth Amendment as the best hope for women's rights and to endorse the ERA [Equal Rights Amendment]. The organization did so by an overwhelming majority and the next year defined women's rights as its 'top priority,' creating the Women's Rights Project. The key figure in the ACLU's campaign was law professor [and future US Supreme Court Justice] Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who, as one of three general counsels, shaped the ACLU brief in Reed v. Reed, the breakthrough women's rights case in the Supreme Court. Reed challenged the automatic preference for men over women as administrators of estates...The Court, however, did not go as far as the ACLU and women's groups wanted, holding that gender was not a 'suspect classification' demanding the same 'strict scrutiny' by the court as race did."
Nov. 5, 1973 TIME magazine cover on "The Push to Impeach" President Nixon
Source: "The Push to Impeach," www.time.com (accessed June 20, 2011)
Undated picture of Frank Collin, Leader of the National Socialist Party of America at the time of the Skokie trial
Source: "National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie," www.docstoc.com, Nov. 6, 2008
Craig B. Mousin, JD, MDiv "American Civil Liberties Union," Encyclopedia of Business Ethics and Society, 2008
1978 - ACLU Membership and Contributions Drop"Subsisting primarily on membership dues, the A.C.L.U. had made little sustained effort to raise larger donations. By the mid-1970's, its finances were precarious...
The crisis came to a head in 1977, with the organization's defense of the American Nazi Party's right to march in Skokie, Ill. Thousands of members resigned in outrage, and donations declined sharply. By 1978... the A.C.L.U. was almost $500,000 in debt."
Margalit Fox "Carol Pitchersky, 57, A.C.L.U. Official, Dies," New York Times, Oct. 23, 2004
Oct. 1978 - Glasser Replaces Neier as ACLU Executive Director"[Aryeh Neier] announced his resignation in the spring of 1978. There was an element of tragedy in his demise: He was unable to adapt to the demands of running the complex ACLU bureaucracy he had done so much to create...
New ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser was one of the veterans of the 1960s who did adapt to the demands of the 1970s. Taking office in September 1978, he immersed himself in the ACLU's administrative morass. On his first day on the job he found the ACLU on the verge of bankruptcy."
May 11, 1981 - Attorney General Edwin Meese III Calls the ACLU a "Criminals' Lobby"At a May 11, 1981 speech to the California Peace Officers Association, Attorney General Edwin Meese, III said, "There has actually been the emergence, not only in California but throughout the nation of what might be described as a criminals' lobby...
[A law review article lists] some nine or 10 different organizations - the Prisoners Union, the ACLU and a whole group of others - that have now formed a consistent body of lobbying which is regularly opposed to law enforcement."
Debra Cassens Weiss, JD "The Policy and the Rhetoric of Ed Meese," ABA Journal, Feb. 1, 1987
Aug. 26, 1981 - ACLU Co-founder and First Executive Director Roger Baldwin Dies
Roger Baldwin on June 2, 1976
Source:Richard Avedon, "Roger Baldwin, Founder, American Civil Liberties Union, New York City, June 2, 1976," walthercollection.com, June 2, 1976
Florence Times - Tri Cities Daily "ACLU Founder Dies," Florence Times - Tri Cities Daily, Aug. 27, 1981
Jan. 5, 1982 - "Scopes II" - McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education: Creation Science and Evolution"The 1981-82 federal court case McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education constituted a challenge to the state’s Act 590, which mandated the equal treatment of creation science in classrooms where evolution was taught. On January 5, 1982, U.S. District Court Judge William R. Overton ruled Act 590 unconstitutional in light of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. [Judge Overton determined] that creationism constituted a religious doctrine rather than a scientific theory...
For the trial billed as 'Scopes II' by the media, the ACLU divided its ten expert witnesses into two teams. The 'religious team' argued that 'historically, philosophically, and sociologically, creationism is a religious movement of fundamentalists who base their beliefs on the inerrancy of the Bible and that creation science is no more than religious apologetics,'... The 'scientific team'... presented arguments undercutting the supposed scientific basis for creationism. Thus, the plaintiffs sought to demonstrate that creationism was in fact a religious doctrine, the teaching of which violated the establishment clause...
When Judge Overton ruled against the constitutionality of Act 590, he took particular issue with Section 4(a) of the act, which defined creation science as positing the 'creation of the universe, energy, and life from nothing,' as well as explaining the earth’s geology 'by occurrence of a worldwide flood.' Such a definition, he argued, violated the establishment clause due to its naked references to events in the Book of Genesis. The state did not appeal the case."
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture "McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education," Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture website (accessed Apr. 8, 2011)
Sep. 1, 1987 - ACLU Opposes Robert Bork Supreme Court Nomination in a Reversal of Policy
Robert Bork being sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing on Sep. 15, 1987
Source: Nina Totenberg, "Robert Bork's Supreme Court Nomination 'Changed Everything, Maybe Forever,'" npr.org, Dec. 19, 2012
Linda Greenhouse, MSL "A.C.L.U., Reversing Policy, Joins the Opposition to Bork," New York Times, Sep. 1, 1987
July 21, 1988 - ACLU Files Amicus Brief Supporting Oliver North in Iran-Contra Indictment
Oliver North testifies before Congress in July 1987 on the Iran-Contra affair
Source: "Iran-Contra Affair; Oliver North," www.britannica.com, July 1987
Philip Shenon "Civil Liberties Union Asks Court to Quash Iran-Contra Indictment," New York Times, July 21, 1988
Oct. 1988 - ACLU's 1st TV Ad to Defend Against H.W. Bush's "Card Carrying" Comment
"Next week [Oct. 1988] Burt Lancaster will look out from television screens in Southern California and confess, 'I am a card-carrying member of the A.C.L.U.'
The actor's declaration is part of the first television advertising campaign in the history of the American Civil Liberties Union, the 68-year-old civil rights organization that has found itself the target of attacks by Vice President Bush and other Republicans in this year's Presidential campaign...
The A.C.L.U.'s Southern California chapter has produced three television commercials and one radio spot starring Mr. Lancaster. In one, the actor makes a 'confession,' that he is a member of the A.C.L.U., referring directly to Mr. Bush's repeated comment, made derisively, that the Democratic Presidential nominee, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts, is a 'card-carrying member of the A.C.L.U.'"
Randall Rothenberg "A.C.L.U. Goes Hollywood in Countering Bush's Campaign of Derision," New York Times, Sep. 28, 1988
July 3, 1989 - Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU: Christian Nativity Scene Violates the Establishment Clause
Christmas tree and menorah in front of the City-County Building of the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County in 1988
Source: "Religious Symbols in Public Places," University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law website (accessed Apr. 7, 2011)
Oyez Project "Allegheny v. ACLU," Oyez Project website (accessed Apr. 7, 2011)
June 27, 1997 - Reno v. ACLU: Communications Decency Act Unconstitutional Restriction on Free Speech"In an overwhelming victory for Internet free speech, the Supreme Court today ruled in Reno v. ACLU, that the federal Communications Decency Act (CDA) is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech, affirming a lower court decision. In a landmark 7-2 decision written by Justice Stevens, the Court ruled that the CDA places an 'unacceptably heavy burden on protected speech,' that 'threatens to torch a large segment of the Internet community.' Justice O'Connor, with Chief Justice Rehnquist, concurred with the judgment while dissenting in part along more narrow lines... The ACLU's suit, filed on February 8, 1996, challenges censorship provisions of the law aimed at protecting minors by criminalizing so-called 'indecency' on the Internet. The government appealed the case to the High Court after a federal three-judge panel ruled unanimously last June that the law unconstitutionally restricts free speech."
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "ACLU Hails Supreme Court Victory in Internet Censorship Challenge," ACLU website, June 27, 1997
1999 - ACLU Annual Income Tops $45 Million"In 1978, the national ACLU's annual income was $3.9 million and the organization ran a small deficit. By 1999, annual income was an off-the-charts $45 million. The endowment fund has gone from $780,000 to a whopping $41 million."
Robyn E. Blumner, JD "ACLU National Director Retires for Much More Freedom," St. Petersburg Times, Sep. 3, 2000
Mar. 23, 2001 - Former ACLU Leaders Contradict ACLU Stance on Constitutionality of McCain-Feingold Bill"In a statement released by the Brennan Center for Justice today [Mar. 23, 2001], nine former ACLU leaders expressed their view that the pending McCain-Feingold bill is constitutional. The group signing the statement includes every past president, executive director, legal director, and legislative director of the ACLU. The statement concludes, 'Opponents of reform should not be permitted to hide behind an unjustified constitutional smokescreen.'
The position of former ACLU leaders directly contradicts the stance aggressively asserted by the ACLU in the debate over the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold legislation."
Amanda Cooper "Former ACLU Leaders Uniformly Agree on Constitutionality of McCain-Feingold," Brennan Center for Justice website, Mar. 23, 2001
Sep. 7, 2001 - Anthony Romero Becomes New ACLU Executive Director"Anthony D. Romero is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation's premier defender of liberty and individual freedom. He took the helm of the organization just four days before the September 11, 2001 attacks...
Romero is the ACLU's sixth executive director, and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity."
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "Anthony D. Romero," ACLU website (accessed Apr. 11, 2011)
Nov. 26, 2002 - Libertarian and Former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA) Joins ACLU
Former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA)
Source: Wikipedia.org, "Photograph of Bob Barr Taken around 2008," wikipedia.org, July 27, 2008
FOX News "Barr to Join ACLU," www.foxnews.com, Nov. 27, 2002
Jan. 12, 2003 - Post-9/11 ACLU Membership Nears 330,000
ACLU advertisement titled "Patriot Act Truth #1"
Source: "The True Meaning of the 'Patriot Act'," NetScientia Web Concepts website (accessed Apr. 8, 2011)
Frank James "ACLU Membership Rises," Chicago Tribune, Jan. 12, 2003
Jan. 12, 2004 - ACLU Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Conservative Rush Limbaugh
Source: Biography.com, "Rush Limbaugh Biography," biography.com, July 18, 2019
Catherine Donaldson-Evans, MS "ACLU Comes to Rush Limbaugh's Defense," www.foxnews.com, Jan. 12, 2004
June 29, 2004 - Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union: Child Online Protection Act a Violation of Free Speech"COPA [Child Online Protection Act], first signed into law in 1998, seeks to protect youth from objectionable material [including pornography] online by criminalizing internet transmission of material that is 'harmful to minors'...
The current court case, John Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union et al., stems from a suit brought against the U.S. Government by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other internet and civil liberties groups. The suit contends that the COPA is an unconstitutional infringement on the free speech and privacy rights of adults."
Oyez Project "Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union," Oyez Project website (accessed Apr. 11, 2011)
June 27, 2005 - McCreary County v. ACLU: Ten Commandments Display Unconstitutional
Pulaski County courthouse display of ten historical documents, one of which is the Ten Commandments
Source: "Displays Including the Ten Commandments," Liberty Council website (accessed Apr. 11, 2011)
In a 5-4 opinion... the majority held that the displays violated the establishment clause because their purpose had been to advance religion. In the case of each of the displays, the Court held, an observer would have concluded that the government was endorsing religion. The first display for presenting the Ten Commandments in isolation; the second for showing the Commandments along with other religious passages; the third for presenting the Commandments in a presentation of the 'Foundations of American Law,' an exhibit in which the county reached 'for any way to keep a religious document on the walls of courthouses.'"
Oyez Project "McCreary County v. ACLU," Oyez Project website (accessed Apr. 11, 2011)
June 29, 2006 - ACLU Files Amicus Brief Supporting Osama Bin Laden's Former Chauffer in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
Salim Ahmed Hamden, Osama bin Laden's former chauffer, undated photo
Source: "Tribunal Halted After Judge Rules System Unlawful," www.usatoday.com, Nov. 8, 2004
The Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ... [found] that the establishment of military tribunals had been authorized by Congress and was therefore not unconstitutional."
On June 29, 2006, "...[T]he Supreme Court, in a 5-to-3 decision authored by Justice John Paul Stevens, held that neither an act of Congress nor the inherent powers of the Executive laid out in the Constitution expressly authorized the sort of military commission at issue in this case."
Oyez Project "Hamdan v. Rumsfeld" Oyez Project website (accessed June 17, 2011
Jan. 16, 2010 - US Military Releases Bagram Detainee Names Based on ACLU FOIA Lawsuit
Map of location of Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan
Source: "Red Cross Confirms 'Second Jail' at Bagram, Afghanistan," BBC News, May 11, 2010
Alissa J. Rubin "Bagram Detainees Named by U.S.," New York Times, Jan. 16, 2010
Aug. 3, 2010 - ACLU Supports Proposed Building of Islamic Cultural Center Near World Trade Center
ACLU bus advertisement in support of the Islamic Center near the World Trade Center
Source: "Religious Freedom Bus Ad," ACLU website, Sep. 10, 2010
"We congratulate the Landmarks Preservation Commission for promoting our nation's core values and not letting bias get in the way of the rule of law... For those who have sought to ban the construction of the cultural center, we must remember that our precious ideals extend to all Americans, regardless of creed or color. We see the center as a monument to pluralism, symbolic of America's commitment to religious freedom."
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "NYCLU and ACLU Applaud Approval of NYC Islamic Cultural Center for Upholding Values of Freedom and Tolerance," ACLU website, Aug. 3, 2010
July 18, 2012 - ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Drone Strikes against American Citizens in Yemen"On July 18, 2012, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit against senior CIA and military officials challenging their decisions to authorize the ‘targeted killing’ of three United States citizens, Anwar Al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, and Anwar’s sixteen year-old son Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, in drone strikes in Yemen in 2011… In 2010, after reports that Anwar Al-Aulaqi had been placed on executive "kill lists,” CCR and the ACLU filed suit on behalf of his father, Nasser, challenging the government’s authorization for his son’s killing. On September 30, 2011, U.S. strikes killed Anwar Al-Aulaqi, along with Samir Khan and three others. Two weeks later, the U.S. launched another drone strike at an open-air restaurant in Yemen, killing Anwar Al-Aulaqi’s son, Abdulrahman, and six other civilian bystanders, including another teenager… The Department of Justice, representing defendants, has moved to dismiss the case, arguing that there is no role for the judiciary in reviewing the claims because they raise ‘political questions’ and national security concerns, and that defendants should be immune. Oral argument on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss will be heard in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on July 19, 2013."
Center for Constitutional Rights Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta," ccrjustice.org (accessed Aug. 14, 2013)
June 11, 2013 - ACLU Sues NSA over Its Surveillance Program"The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of the U.S. government surveillance program that collects the telephone records of millions of Americans from U.S. telecommunications companies. It is the first substantive lawsuit following reports in The Washington Post and the Guardian last week that detailed two vast surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency under laws authorized by Congress after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The ACLU suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, challenges the legality of the spy agency’s collection of customer ‘metadata,’ including the phone numbers dialed and the length of calls. The lawsuit asks the court to force the government to end the program and purge any records it has collected, and to declare that the surveillance is unconstitutional."
Washington Post "ACLU Sues over NSA Surveillance Program," washingtonpost.com, June 11, 2013
Aug. 13, 2013 - ACLU Sues North Carolina over Constitutionality of New Voter ID Law"Two lawsuits filed in federal court in North Carolina have challenged the state’s new voter ID law, claiming that some of its provisions infringe on voter rights and discriminate against minorities. The suits were filed late Monday in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, N.C., by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. The new law, signed Monday by Gov. Pat McCrory, requires voters to show government-issued ID cards. It also shortens early voting by a week; ends same-day registration; increases the number of poll observers who can challenge a voter’s eligibility, and eliminates popular preregistration initiatives for high school students. The law ends straight-ticket voting as well, the practice of voting for every candidate of a single party, which had been in effect in North Carolina since 1925. The law allows groups to spend unlimited amounts of money for candidates from May to September in certain years, and does not require disclosing the source or amount. It prohibits lobbyists from passing campaign contributions to candidates. The law also drops requirements that outside groups identify their largest donors, and raises the maximum contribution limit from $4,000 to $5,000. The ACLU suit, filed on behalf of four North Carolina advocacy groups, alleges that some provisions in the law violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965."
Los Angeles Times “North Carolina Faces ACLU, NAACP Lawsuits over New Voter ID Law,” latimes.com, Aug. 13, 2013
Aug. 14, 2013 - CIA Denies ACLU Freedom of Information Act Request on US Drone Program for National Security Reasons"In a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] request filed on January 13, 2010, the ACLU asked the government to disclose the legal and factual basis for its use of predator drones to conduct ‘targeted killings’ overseas. In particular, the ACLU seeks to find out when, where, and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killings. The FOIA request was filed with the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice (including the Office of Legal Counsel), the Department of State, and the CIA. The Departments of Defense, Justice, and State responded by releasing some records and withholding others. The CIA denied the request."
June 14, 2016 - CIA Releases Documents on Detention and Interrogation Based on ACLU FOIA Lawsuit"The Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] has released [on June 14, 2016] some 50 documents on its former 'Detention and Interrogation' program in response to a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The now-declassified documents highlight some of the methods used in what critics have characterized as a 'torture' program, which was in place under the George W. Bush administration... The documents range from revealing techniques for what has euphemistically been called 'enhanced interrogation,' to the finding that the CIA detained the wrong individual for months."
ABC News "What Newly Released CIA Documents Reveal about 'Torture' in Its Former Detention Program," abcnews.com, June 15, 2016
Jan. 17, 2017 - President Obama Commutes Sentence of Chelsea Manning after Lobbying from the ACLU"President Obama today [Jan. 17, 2017] commuted most of Chelsea Manning's remaining sentence for disclosing classified information about the impact of America's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on innocent civilians. This is an important development both for government transparency and for transgender rights. With today's clemency order, she will be released in May 2017 after having served seven years in prison. This isn't a pardon. Chelsea pled guilty and will face the consequences for many of the charges against her. But the military sentenced her to 35 years in prison, a longer sentence than anyone else in U.S. history has received for disclosing information to the news media. Chelsea's imprisonment was made far harder by the fact that she is a woman serving a sentence in a men's prison... The ACLU brought suit for Chelsea back in 2014, seeking access to hormone therapy and to the clothing and grooming standards that all other female military prisoners are subject to... The president's decision comes after an outpouring of support for Manning since her extraordinary sentence and the ongoing mistreatment throughout her incarceration. In December, the ACLU and over a dozen other LGBT groups sent a letter to President Obama urging him to grant clemency to Manning, and an official White House petition with the same request secured over 100,000 signatures."
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "President Obama's Commutation of Chelsea Manning's Sentence Most Likely Saved Her Life," aclu.org, Jan. 17, 2017
Jan 29, 2017 - ACLU Membership and Donations Surge Following Election of President Trump"In the weeks after the Nov. 8 election, when Donald Trump secured a surprise victory to become president of the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union received so much money in online donations - more than $15 million - that an official with the 100-year-old organization called the flood 'unprecedented in our history'... This weekend alone, the civil liberties group received more than $24 million in online donations from 356,306 people... a total that supersedes its annual online donations by six times... [A]s of early Sunday evening [Jan. 29, 2017] the ACLU's membership had more than doubled since the November presidential election, spiking from 400,000 to over a million."
Washington Post "The ACLU Says It Got $24 Million in Online Donations This Weekend," washingtonpost.com, Jan. 30, 2017
White supremacists gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 11, 2017; the ACLU Virginia branch helped the group secure a permit to assemble in the park.
Source: Andrew Shurtleff, "Fire and Fury: Unite the Right Torch Rally Ends in Violence at the Rotunda," dailyprogress.com
Wall Street Journal Joe Palazzolo, "ACLU Will No Longer Defend Hate Groups Protesting With Firearms," wsj.com, Aug. 17, 2017
Aug. 17, 2017 - Settlement Reached in Landmark ACLU Lawsuit against CIA Interrogation"A settlement was announced Thursday [Aug. 17, 2017] in a landmark lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against two psychologists involved in designing the CIA's harsh interrogation program used in the war on terror. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed...
Attorneys for the ACLU called it a historic victory, saying this is the first time the CIA or its private contractors had been held accountable for torturing suspects in the war on terror.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of three former detainees, who contended they were tortured at secret sites overseas. The defendants were psychologists James Mitchell and John 'Bruce' Jessen, who were under contract with the federal government following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
'This outcome shows that there are consequences for torture and that survivors can and will hold those responsible for torture accountable,' said Dror Ladin, an attorney for the ACLU. 'It is a clear warning for anyone who thinks they can torture with impunity.'
James T. Smith, lead attorney for the psychologists, said his clients were public servants whose interrogation of suspected terrorists was authorized by the government...
A U.S. Senate investigation in 2014 found that Mitchell and Jessen's techniques produced no useful intelligence in the war on terror. They were paid $81 million for their work, the Senate report said...
The ACLU said this was the first lawsuit involving the CIA's torture program that was not dismissed at initial stages."
Associated Press "Settlement Reached in ACLU Lawsuit against CIA Interrogation," politico.com, Aug. 17, 2017
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