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The nation's foremost defender of civil liberties. Defends constitutional rights. Upholds free speech, religious liberty, equality, privacy, due process. Protects minorities, women, immigrants, the poor.

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU)

EIN: 
13-6213516
CFC Number: 
11890

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation is the nation's foremost defender of civil liberties. Our mission is to realize the promise of the Bill of Rights for all people in the United States. These basic rights -- religious liberty, freedom of expression, the right to privacy, equality, and due process -- are the defining principles of our democracy and reflect the oldest and noblest values of American society.

The ACLU was founded in 1920, at a time when activists languished in jail for distributing anti-war literature; state-sanctioned violence against African Americans was routine; and the Supreme Court had yet to uphold a single free speech claim. Since then, the ACLU has pioneered the fight for civil liberties, for example: defending the teaching of evolution in the Scopes "monkey trial" of 1925; fighting for school desegregation in the 1950s; decriminalizing abortion in the 1970s; and protecting free speech on the Internet in the 1990s. Today, we appear before the U.S. Supreme Court more often than any other non-governmental organization, and we handle nearly 6,000 court cases annually. The ACLU's mission is carried out by a national staff of lawyers, a nationwide system of 50 affiliates, and the help of volunteers. We focus on a number of key issues, including women's rights; reproductive freedom; LGBT rights; voting rights; immigrants' rights; criminal justice; and racial justice. In 2013, our Supreme Court challenge to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) resulted in a landmark ruling overturning this discriminatory federal law. In addition, since 9/11, the ACLU has led a national campaign to keep America both safe and free by demanding that government ensure our security without sacrificing civil liberties. We challenged the unconstitutional provisions of the USA Patriot Act; we filed the first court challenge to the National Security Agency's illegal, warrantless spying program; and we unearthed thousands of pages of government documents related to the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody. We also work to ensure that the U.S. government complies with international human rights principles in addition to the U.S. Constitution.

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