American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)


Organizational Description:

Founded in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union is one of the oldest organizations in the United States dedicated to preserving the liberties enshrined in the Constitution. With more than 600,000 members and activists, and affiliates in every state, the ACLU works to ensure that the promises embodied in the Constitution are fulfilled.

The American system of government is founded on two counterbalancing principles: that the majority of the people govern, through democratically elected representatives; and that the power even of a democratic majority must be limited, to ensure individual rights.

Majority power is limited by the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which consists of the original ten amendments ratified in 1791, plus the three post-Civil War amendments (the 13th, 14th and 15th) and the 19th Amendment (women’s suffrage), adopted in 1920.

The mission of the ACLU is to preserve all of these protections and guarantees.

Services Provided:

The Washington Legislative Office exclusively works on legislative issues. The National Office litigates and educates on First Amendment issues. The affiliates litigate and lobby on First Amendment issues in courts and legislatures around the country.

The ACLU has been a leader in litigating free speech cases since its inception. Acting as either lead counsel or friend-of-the-court, the ACLU has helped shape the landscape of First Amendment jurisprudence. For a list of the ACLU’s “100 Greatest Hits,” see:

Primary Issues of Focus:

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of religion and the press



Civil rights

Death penalty

Criminal justice

Disability rights

Drug policy


Human rights

Lesbian and gay rights

National security

Police practices

Prisoners’ rights

Privacy and technology

Racial justice

Religion and belief

Reproductive freedom

Rights of the poor

Voting rights

Women’s rights

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