Non-profit

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Logo of the American Civil Liberties Union (link)
Website:

www.ACLU.org

Location:

NEW YORK, NY

Tax ID:

13-3871360

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $50,628,968
Expenses: $41,974,931
Assets: $83,794,932

Formation:

January 1920 in New York, NY

Founders:

Roger Baldwin

Crystal Eastman

Albert DeSilver

President:

Susan Herman

Executive Director:

Anthony D. Romero

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nearly 100-year-old left-leaning activism organization focused on issues related to civil liberties. During its history, the ACLU has aligned with the ideological Left, becoming a “hub of liberal activism” which declared its intent to spend $25 million attacking Republican candidates during the 2018 election cycle.[1]

Labor union activist Roger Baldwin and a group of like-minded activist colleagues founded the ACLU in 1920. The ACLU advocated for special government protections specifically for left-leaning demographic and special interest groups such as immigrants, labor unions, LGBT people, the poor, prisoners, and the severely mentally ill.[2]

The ACLU’s main tool is courtroom activism, whereby the organization brings or supports a lawsuit in the hope that a court will find a legal justification for enshrining the ACLU’s position.[3] One-historian estimates that the ACLU has participated in 80 percent of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most controversial cases since 1925.[4] While the ACLU argues that it has a non-partisan affiliation, the ACLU is a decidedly left-of-center organization with liberal values.[5]

Since its inception, the ACLU has fought for judicial mandates favoring labor unions;[6] advocated for expanded rights of accused defendants;[7] challenged aggressive policing measures;[8] defended the pedophilia advocacy group North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA);[9] defended the free expression rights of numerous controversial organizations including the Ku Klux Klan, the Nation of Islam, and the National Socialist Party of America;[10] and defended terrorists including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, mastermind of the attacks of September 11, 2001,[11] while seeking to end national security surveillance programs.[12]

In recent years, the ACLU’s priorities have largely taken left-of-center positions on hot-button political topics. The organization seeks to eliminate the death penalty[13]  and has defended death row inmates.[14] The ACLU advocates for increased government spending as repayment for slavery and segregation.[15] The ACLU also seeks to expand rights for illegal immigrants and seeks to make enforcement of immigration laws and border protections more difficult.[16]

In 2017, assumed a leadership role in the opposition to the Trump administration and touts that in 2017 it launched over 110 different legal actions to prevent Republican-backed policies from taking effect.[17] Specifically the group has sued to overturn the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban,[18] to support federal funding for “sanctuary cities” which do not enforce federal immigration laws,[19] and to overturn a Trump order barring transgender people from military service.[20]

Since it took a more partisan approach after the election of President Donald Trump, the ACLU has been criticized by civil libertarians for subjugating its stated civil libertarian principles to the needs of left-of-center activism.[21]

ACLU Foundation is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the ACLU.

Organizational Overview

In 1920, a small group of left-leaning activists led by labor activist Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, and Albert DeSilver re-organized and expanded the defunct National Civil Liberties Bureau under the name American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).[22] The ACLU was to carry out militant “direct actions” to defend against violations of civil liberties.[23]

The original national committee of the ACLU was “deliberately” filled with labor union leaders and pro-First World War liberals including chairman Harry Ward of the Union Theological Seminary, William Z. Foster from the American Federation of Labor (AFL), Felix Frankfurter, [24] Jane Addams, Helen Keller, Arthur Garfield Hayes, and Norman Thomas.[25]

The ACLU’s “work is coordinated by a national office in New York, aided by a legislative office in Washington that lobbies Congress.”[26] The organization claims to have more than 1 million members[27] and organizes a nationwide network of affiliate chapters in every state and more than 300 chapters in smaller towns and cities.[28] These affiliate organizations carry out local advocacy campaigns, local litigation-activism, and local lobbying efforts. [29]

The ACLU’s national office operates as two related entities, the ACLU itself, a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” nonprofit, and the related ACLU Foundation, a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) organization. Both entities pursue litigation, issue communications and carry out left-leaning public advocacy and awareness programs; however, the ACLU finances most of the organization’s lobbying at the local, state, and federal levels in support of its preferred policies.[30]

Ideological Outlook

During the 1960s and 1970s, conservatives accused the ACLU of using liberal judges to push a left-wing political agenda. Critics pointed to the ACLU’s positions in favor of abortion, against the Vietnam War, and its support for Richard Nixon’s impeachment as evidence of its leftward political shift.[31]

Historian Samuel Walker wrote that the ACLU’s “greatest impact on American life” was its role in convincing the Supreme Court to “constitutionalize” countless controversial policies. [32] Similarly, one historian estimates that the ACLU has participated in 80 percent of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most controversial cases since 1925.[33]

In The Politics of the American Civil Liberties Union, Dr. William A. Donohue writes, “quite simply, the ACLU has a politics, and that politics is liberalism” and “the voice of the ACLU has been the voice of liberalism.” Donohue concludes that every action the ACLU has taken from it lobbying efforts to its policy decisions reflect value priorities, that are “the quintessential embodiment of American liberalism.”[34]

Historical Campaigns

Defense of Communists

The ACLU denies the allegation that it was a Communist front group;[35] however, the ACLU did often defend individuals accused of being Communists[36] and was heavily criticized as a potential “front” for Communism during Cold War-era investigations of Soviet influence. [37]

In 1931, the U.S. Supreme Court, siding with the ACLU, ruled that a Communist Party member had the constitutional right to salute a communist flag.[38]

In 1943 a report of the California Senate Fact-Finding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities stated:

The American Civil Liberties Union may be definitely classed as a Communist front or ‘transmission belt’ organization. At least 90% of its efforts are expended on behalf of Communists who come into conflict with the law.[39]

Organized Labor

Since its inception the ACLU has fought to organize labor unions, beginning with efforts to promote unions in the 1920s.[40] In 1932, the ACLU played a major role in passing the Norris-LaGuardia Act, a federal law that forced employers to allow their employees to join labor unions and prevented employers from outlawing strikes and other union organizing activities.[41] Similarly, in 1939, the ACLU fought and won a lawsuit at the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed labor unions the ability to organize.[42]

Defense of Extremist Groups

The ACLU has defended a number of extremist groups and individuals, including the Ku Klux Klan, the Nation of Islam, and the National Socialist Party of America.[43] In one of the group’s most famous cases, the ACLU defended the right of the American Nazi Party to march through Skokie, Illinois, a mostly Jewish suburb of Chicago, in 1977.[44]

Criminal Justice

The ACLU has a long history of supporting an expanded interpretation of rights for accused defendants and lighter sentencing laws for convicts. Throughout the 1960’s the ACLU successfully supported or argued a number a number of U.S. Supreme Court cases that made it harder for the police to gather evidence during criminal investigations, and was criticized for expanding the rights of criminals. [45] In 1963 the ACLU supported a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the poor had a constitutionally guaranteed right to legal counsel.[46]

In 1988 then-Vice President George H.W. Bush said, “I have never been a member (of the ACLU) because they’re always coming down on the side of criminals.”[47] Similarly, at around the same time Edwin Meese a counselor to President Ronald Reagan labeled the ACLU as the “criminals’ lobby.”[48]

The ACLU argues that possession of child pornography should not be illegal[49]and has argued in favor of “virtual child pornography”[50] In 2000, the ACLU defended the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), a group that supports pedophilia, against a civil suit filed by the family of a Massachusetts victim of molestation.[51]

Church and State

The ACLU defended John Scopes in a case that sought to overturn a requirement that human evolution not be taught in public schools.[52] Since then, the ACLU has often fought against religion in public institutions.[53]

In 1947, the ACLU led the legal challenge that persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to declare religious teaching in state governed schools unconstitutional. [54] In the 1980s, the ACLU supported the elimination of tax exemptions for churches, including the Roman Catholic Church.[55] [56] [57] More recently, the ACLU complained when Attorney General Jeff Sessions proposed ways for federal agencies to accommodate religious observance and practice.[58]

The ACLU has supported the right of schoolchildren not to salute the American flag when it violates their religious beliefs.[59]

National Security

The ACLU has frequently opposed national security policies.[60] In 2002, the ACLU fought to reinstate a set of multi-layer bureaucratic guidelines barring FBI intelligence gathering known colloquially as “the wall.” Before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, this “wall” had prevented FBI agents from fully investigating the terrorists involved in planning the 9/11 attacks, and was removed by the administration of George W. Bush.[61]

The ACLU also filed suit seeking to President George W. Bush’s surveillance program, which allowed for eavesdropping on international phone calls and e-mails of people deemed a terror risk.[62]

In 2010, the ACLU sued to “prevent the U.S. military and CIA from undertaking the “targeted killing” of persons suspected of posing a terrorist threat to the U.S.”[63]

The ACLU has consistently argued for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility[64] and has fought to make sure terrorists are tried in civilian court.[65]

The ACLU has defended a number of accused terrorists, their domestic abettors, and their financiers. The ACLU pushed for a civilian trial and then defended confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and five of his alleged 9/11 co-conspirators.[66] The ACLU defended Lynne Stewart, who was convicted in 2005 after being videotaped helping the “blind sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman communicate from prison with his Egyptian terrorist comrades.[67] The ACLU the ACLU defended an Islamist “charity,” Kind Hearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development, which was shut down in 2006 by the US Treasury Department for funneling money to the Palestinian foreign terrorist organization Hamas.[68]

Current Positions

Numerous organizations have declared the ACLU the leader of the liberal opposition to the Republican-led federal government and the organization has spent millions of dollars in political expenditures against right-wing policies. [69] [70] [71] The organization’s shift toward electoral organizing and advocacy and away from purist civil libertarianism has been criticized by supporters of free speech and procedural safeguards for defendants.[72]

Crime and the Death Penalty

The ACLU “believes that, in all circumstances, the death penalty is unconstitutional” and that “no one deserves to die” including murderers. [73] The ACLU also supports other easing of non-capital sentences.[74] In 2015, an ACLU representative called President Barack Obama’s decision to free more than 6,000 federal inmates “nothing short of thrilling.”[75]  The ACLU has similarly opposed the use of civil forfeiture to punish criminals,[76] and has sought to take military-style weapons away from police.[77] The ACLU joined with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in labeling fatal police shootings a “national crisis” and calling for federal legislative reforms.[78]

The ACLU argues that due to inadequate federal programs and spending along with tough on crime police policies, black and indigenous people have not overcome the impacts of slavery and land revocation that took place hundreds of years ago.[79] The ACLU thus brings lawsuit, lobbies, and advocates for policies that favor these specific communities based on their racial classification based on perceived “institutional” concerns.[80]

Illegal Immigration

The ACLU seeks to expand the rights of illegal immigrants and brings lawsuits meant to make enforcement of immigration laws and border protections more difficult.[81] The ACLU opposes the collection of citizenship information on the 2020 Census,[82] has defended “sanctuary city” leaders from criminal prosecution,[83] has brought numerous lawsuits arguing against the deportation of illegal immigrants[84] and has supported government-funded benefits for immigrants.[85] The ACLU filed 13 different lawsuits seeking to block President Trump’s proposed bans on travel from a number of majority-Muslim states, later amended to hostile countries such as Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela.[86]

Gay and Transgender Issues

The ACLU has fostered an expansion in mandates on religious institutions concerning LGBT individuals. A main focus of the ACLU in 2018 is on ensuring that religious institutions and individuals are forced to provide services to LGBT individuals even if it contradicts their religious beliefs.[87] The ACLU also opposed a Trump administration ban on transgender individuals serving in the military,[88]

Abortion

The ACLU touts that “abortion is one of the most common medical procedures performed today,” and argues that the procedure is “incredibly safe.”[89] As such the ACLU uses its various tools to try and block efforts to restrict the availability and government funding of abortions.[90]

Partisan Politics

In 2018, bolstered by its newfound liberal resistance leadership role, the ACLU planned to digress from its ostensibly nonpartisan stance and become a “hub of liberal political activism.”[91]

During the 2018 election cycle, the ACLU expressed plans to spend over $25 million attacking Republicans based on their conservative policy positions. Specifically, the ACLU planned to attack Republicans for ensuring only citizens are able vote, for supporting travel restrictions, for opposing abortion, and for opposing unfettered illegal immigration.[92] In total the ACLU planned to get involved in about a dozen state and federal races across the country.[93]

In Florida, the ACLU planned to spend $5 million on a ballot initiative that would allow an estimated 1.5 million convicted felons the right to vote. According to the ACLU’s executive director, the proposal if successful would alter the state’s political balance in favor of left-wing interests.[94]

Affiliates

People Power

Also see People Power (Nonprofit)

People Power is a project created by the ACLU to oppose President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, as well as promote a series of other left-of-center ideological issues, including LGBT rights, police surveillance and abortion rights. It is headed by ACLU national political director Faiz Shakir.[95]

Criticism

Political Advocacy Group

Liberal author and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz wrote in an op-ed for the Hill that, “The ACLU is no longer a neutral defender of everyone’s civil liberties. It has morphed into a hyper-partisan, hard left political advocacy group.”[96] According to Dershowitz, the ACLU has formally engaged in partisan politics and election, and because the majority of the ACLU’s contributors are left-leaning, it is bound to promote left-wing policy goals.

Former executive director of the ACLU Ira Glasser has also said that the organization’s leftward shift “has the capacity to destroy the organization as it has always existed”.[97]

Financial Overview

Funders

The ACLU is funded by small-dollar membership contributions. The ACLU substantially expanded its claimed membership and financial coffers in 2017.[98] The group claimed that its membership quadrupled from 400,000 members in 2016 to 1.6 million members in 2017.  It also claims that it raised more than $83 million from member donations during that time period.[99]

The ACLU has taken money from a number of left-leaning organizations including George Soros’ Open Society Institute, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Lear Family Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation, and the Tides Foundation.[100]

Program Spending

In 2017, the ACLU spent $107 million on programming including $32.2 million on left-of-center litigation, $60 million supporting its local affiliates’ activities, $11.9 million on public awareness campaigns, and $1.4 million on lobbying.[101]

The ACLU Foundation complemented the ACLU’s spending with $109 million in similar program spending.[102]

People

Susan Herman is the ACLU’s current president. Herman was elected ACLU president in 2008. Previously she served on the ACLU’s National Board of Directors.[103]

Anthony D. Romero is the long-time ACLU executive director. Romero took over at the ACLU on September 4, 2001 and quickly launched the Keep America Safe and Free campaign, which sought to restrict national security counterterrorism programs.[104]

David Cole is the ACLU’s legal director.[105]

Faiz Shakir is the ACLU’s political director. Prior to joining the ACLU, Shakir worked as a senior adviser to former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). [106]

References

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  32. Walker, Samuel. “In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU.” PP. 221. Southern Illinois University Press. Carbondale, IL. 1990. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=hdkrBVJ37I4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=In+Defense+of+American+Liberties:+A+History+of+the+ACLU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj8urH56OTaAhVp4oMKHc5aDOkQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=1917&f=false
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  34. Donohue, William. “The Politics of the American Civil Liberties Union.” PP 4-5. Transaction Publishers. New Brunswick. 2009. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=kMnGnFOG6rcC&pg=PA3&lpg=PA3&dq=%22The+House+Un+American+Activities+Committee%22+AND+%22ACLU%22&source=bl&ots=ucA2kamU1k&sig=mS4rXGozmrOQpLNmpHNpzsjsyX4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiU0IihjuXaAhVG5oMKHZtlCHg4ChDoAQg9MAY#v=onepage&q=%22The%20House%20Un%20American%20Activities%20Committee%22%20AND%20%22ACLU%22&f=false
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  37. Walker, Samuel. “In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU.” PP 193, 195-197. Southern Illinois University Press. Carbondale, IL. 1990. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=hdkrBVJ37I4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=In+Defense+of+American+Liberties:+A+History+of+the+ACLU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj8urH56OTaAhVp4oMKHc5aDOkQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=1917&f=false
  38. Walker, Samuel. “In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU.” PP 221. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=hdkrBVJ37I4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=In+Defense+of+American+Liberties:+ Southern Illinois University Press. Carbondale, IL. 1990. of+the+ACLU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj8urH56OTaAhVp4oMKHc5aDOkQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=1917&f=false
  39. Journal of the Senate. Legislature of the State of California. PP 161. 1961 Regular Session. January 2, 1961- June 16,1961. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=rG6Z5q0UJegC&pg=RA13-PA161&lpg=RA13-PA161&dq=The+American+Civil+Liberties+Union+may+be+definitely+classed+as+a+Communist+front+or+transmission+belt+organization.+At+least+90%25+of+its+efforts+are+expended+on+behalf+of+Communists+who+come+into+conflict+with+the+law&source=bl&ots=ykC25X43PS&sig=ITf2Sr78pvSf63cSAj6u0HI0538&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjWpquI1uzaAhVEmlkKHaKmDHQQ6AEIOjAB#v=onepage&q=The%20American%20Civil%20Liberties%20Union%20may%20be%20definitely%20classed%20as%20a%20Communist%20front%20or%20transmission%20belt%20organization.%20At%20least%2090%25%20of%20its%20efforts%20are%20expended%20on%20behalf%20of%20Communists%20who%20come%20into%20conflict%20with%20the%20law&f=false
  40. “Collective Bargaining And Civil Liberties.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/other/collective-bargaining-and-civil-liberties
  41. Walker, Samuel. “In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU.” PP 87. Southern Illinois University Press. Carbondale, IL. 1990. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=hdkrBVJ37I4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=In+Defense+of+American+Liberties:+A+History+of+the+ACLU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj8urH56OTaAhVp4oMKHc5aDOkQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=1917&f=false
  42. “About The ACLU.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/about-aclu
  43. “About The ACLU.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/about-aclu
  44. McBride, Nicholas. “Controversy nothing new to feisty ACLU.” The Christian Science Monitor. October 3, 1988. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.csmonitor.com/1988/1003/aaclu.html
  45. Walker, Samuel. “In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU.” PP. 249-253. Southern Illinois University Press. Carbondale, IL. 1990. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=hdkrBVJ37I4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=In+Defense+of+American+Liberties:+A+History+of+the+ACLU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj8urH56OTaAhVp4oMKHc5aDOkQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=1917&f=false
  46. McBride, Nicholas. “Controversy nothing new to feisty ACLU.” The Christian Science Monitor. October 3, 1988. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.csmonitor.com/1988/1003/aaclu.html
  47. Miller, Tim. “Bush targets crime policies in FOP speech.” Dayton Daily News. June 27, 1988. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/407037493/
  48. Donohue, William. “The Politics of the American Civil Liberties Union.” PP 4. Transaction Publishers. New Brunswick. 2009. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=kMnGnFOG6rcC&pg=PA3&lpg=PA3&dq=%22The+House+Un+American+Activities+Committee%22+AND+%22ACLU%22&source=bl&ots=ucA2kamU1k&sig=mS4rXGozmrOQpLNmpHNpzsjsyX4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiU0IihjuXaAhVG5oMKHZtlCHg4ChDoAQg9MAY#v=onepage&q=%22The%20House%20Un%20American%20Activities%20Committee%22%20AND%20%22ACLU%22&f=false
  49. “Ten Tough Questions About ACLU Positions.” ACLU of Ohio. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. http://www.acluohio.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/TenToughQuestions.pdf
  50. Murphy, Laura and Johnson, Marvin.  “Letter To Reps. Smith And Scott On H.R. 4623, The ‘Child Obscenity And Pornography Prevention Act Of 2002.’”ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/letter/letter-reps-smith-and-scott-hr-4623-child-obscenity-and-pornography-prevention-act-2002?redirect=cpredirect/14793
  51. Robinson, Bryan. “ACLU Represents Man-Boy Love Group.” ABC News. August 31, 2000. Accessed May 1, 2018. http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=95942&page=1
  52. McBride, Nicholas. “Controversy nothing new to feisty ACLU.” The Christian Science Monitor. October 3, 1988. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.csmonitor.com/1988/1003/aaclu.html
  53. “ACLU Briefing Paper.” Summer 1999. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/FilesPDFs/church_state99.pdf?redirect=library/pbp3.html
  54. Walker, Samuel. “In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU.” PP 221. Southern Illinois University Press. Carbondale, IL. 1990. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=hdkrBVJ37I4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=In+Defense+of+American+Liberties:+A+History+of+the+ACLU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj8urH56OTaAhVp4oMKHc5aDOkQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=1917&f=false
  55. McBride, Nicholas. “Controversy nothing new to feisty ACLU.” The Christian Science Monitor. October 3, 1988. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.csmonitor.com/1988/1003/aaclu.html
  56. Wulfhorst, Ellen. “ACLU responds to Bush.” United Press International. September 26, 1988. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.upi.com/Archives/1988/09/26/ALCU-responds-to-Bush/6380591249600/
  57. Cottrell, Robert. “Roger Nash Baldwin and the American Civil Liberties Union.” PP. 122. Columbia University Press. New York. 1983. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=f3uDCgAAQBAJ&pg=PR4&dq=Roger+Nash+Baldwin+and+the+American+Civil+Liberties+Union,+2000&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjyxtTHluXaAhWm5oMKHZG2AXAQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=%22felix%20frankfurter%22&f=false
  58. Weiss, Brennan. “The ACLU has taken over 100 legal actions against the Trump administration so far — here’s a guide to the most notable ones.” Business Insider. November 26, 2017. Accessed May 1, 2018. http://www.businessinsider.com/aclu-lawsuits-vs-trump-administration-2017-10
  59. “ACLU Briefing Paper.” Summer 1999. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/FilesPDFs/church_state99.pdf?redirect=library/pbp3.html
  60. “About The ACLU.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/about-aclu
  61. Pearce, Jean. “The ACLU’s War on Homeland Security.” Front Page Magazine. June 11, 2003. Accessed May 1, 2018. http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=17759
  62. “ACLU Files Suit to Block NSA Spying.” Newsmax. January 17, 2006. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20100218080142/http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/1/17/93614.shtml?s=lh
  63. White, Adam. “The ACLU Sues to Prohibit “Targeted Killing” of Foreign and U.S.-Born Terrorists. Weekly Standard. August 31, 2010. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.weeklystandard.com/adam-j-white/the-aclu-sues-to-prohibit-targeted-killing-of-foreign-and-us-born-terrorists
  64. “Close Guantánamo.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/feature/close-guantanamo
  65. Walden, Andrew. “The ACLU’s Terror Lobby.” Front page Magazine. November 24, 2009. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20091126214726/https://www.frontpagemag.com/2009/11/24/the-aclu%E2%80%99s-terror-lobby-%E2%80%93-by-andrew-walden
  66. Rosenberg, Carol. “ACLU taps top legal talent to defend accused 9-11 plotters.” McClatchy DC Bureau. April 4, 2008. Accessed May 1, 2018. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article24480271.html
  67. Walden, Andrew. “The ACLU’s Terror Lobby.” Front page Magazine. November 24, 2009. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20091126214726/https://www.frontpagemag.com/2009/11/24/the-aclu%E2%80%99s-terror-lobby-%E2%80%93-by-andrew-walden
  68. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20091126214726/https://www.frontpagemag.com/2009/11/24/the-aclu%E2%80%99s-terror-lobby-%E2%80%93-by-andrew-walden
  69. Demick, Barbara and Pearce, Matt. “Once again, the ACLU takes its place on the front lines of a liberal resistance.” L.A. Times. February 14, 2017. Accessed May 1, 2018. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-aclu-profile-20170131-story.html
  70. Pilkington, Ed. “The frontline of resistance: ACLU ready for further fights with Trump.” The Guardian. January 3, 2018. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/03/aclu-civil-rights-donald-trump
  71. Weigel, David. “ACLU is leading a million-dollar resistance effort against Trump’s policies.” Washington Post. March 12, 2017. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/aclu-is-spending-millions-on-grass-roots-resistance-campaign/2017/03/12/f0fe8158-05ed-11e7-ad5b-d22680e18d10_story.html?utm_term=.77a038d0c02d
  72. Greenfield, Scott. “The New and Improved ACLU.” Simple Justice. May 02, 2018. Accessed May 08, 2018. https://blog.simplejustice.us/2018/05/02/the-new-and-improved-aclu/.
  73. “The Death Penalty: Questions And Answers.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/other/death-penalty-questions-and-answers
  74. “Reforming Police Practices.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police-practices
  75. Schmidt, Michael. “U.S. to Release 6,000 Inmates From Prisons.” N.Y. Times. October 6, 2015. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/07/us/us-to-release-6000-inmates-under-new-sentencing-guidelines.html?_r=1
  76. “Call To Pass Civil Forfeiture Reform Quickly And Independently.” Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/letter/call-pass-civil-forfeiture-reform-quickly-and-independently
  77. “Coalition Letter To House And Senate On Military Equipment Program For Police.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/letter/coalition-letter-house-and-senate-military-equipment-program-police
  78. “Civil Rights Groups Call For Congressional Action On Fatal Police Shootings.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/letter/civil-rights-groups-call-congressional-action-fatal-police-shootings
  79. “Racial Justice.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/issues/racial-justice
  80. “Racial Justice.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/issues/racial-justice
  81. “Immigrant Rights.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights
  82. “ACLU Comment On Trump Administration Plan To Include Citizenship Question In 2020 Census.” ACLU Website. March 27, 2018. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-comment-trump-administration-plan-include-citizenship-question-2020-census
  83. Wofsy, Cody. “DHS’ Threat to Prosecute Officials of Sanctuary Cities Is Unconstitutional.” ACLU website. January 17, 2018. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/state-and-local-immigration-laws/dhs-threat-prosecute-officials-sanctuary
  84. “Deportation And Due Process.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/deportation-and-due-process
  85. “The Rights Of Immigrants -ACLU Position Paper.” ACLU Website. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/other/rights-immigrants-aclu-position-paper
  86. Weiss, Brennan. “The ACLU has taken over 100 legal actions against the Trump administration so far — here’s a guide to the most notable ones.” Business Insider. November 26, 2017. Accessed May 1, 2018. http://www.businessinsider.com/aclu-lawsuits-vs-trump-administration-2017-10
  87. “Using Religion To Discriminate.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/issues/religious-liberty/using-religion-discriminate
  88. “Half Of Senate Opposes Transgender Military Ban.” ACLU Website. April 27, 2018. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/news/half-senate-opposes-transgender-military-ban
  89. “Reproductive Freedom.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/issues/reproductive-freedom
  90. “Reproductive Freedom.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/issues/reproductive-freedom
  91. Isaac-Dover, Edward. “ACLU to storm 2018 midterms.” Politico. January 6, 2018. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/06/aclu-2018-midterms-327115
  92. Isaac-Dover, Edward. “ACLU to storm 2018 midterms.” Politico. January 6, 2018. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/06/aclu-2018-midterms-327115
  93. Isaac-Dover, Edward. “ACLU to storm 2018 midterms.” Politico. January 6, 2018. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/06/aclu-2018-midterms-327115
  94. Isaac-Dover, Edward. “ACLU to storm 2018 midterms.” Politico. January 6, 2018. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/06/aclu-2018-midterms-327115
  95. Gabbatt, Adam. “ACLU Launching People Power to Resist Trump Immigration Policies in ‘freedom Cities’.” The Guardian. March 10, 2017. Accessed June 14, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/09/aclu-people-power-freedom-cities-trump-immigration-policies.
  96. Dershowitz, Alan M. “The Final Nail in the ACLU’s Coffin.” TheHill. June 11, 2018. Accessed June 15, 2018. http://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/391682-the-final-nail-in-the-aclus-coffin.
  97. Dershowitz, Alan M. “The Final Nail in the ACLU’s Coffin.” TheHill. June 11, 2018. Accessed June 20, 2018. http://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/391682-the-final-nail-in-the-aclus-coffin.
  98. Weiss, Brennan. “The ACLU has taken over 100 legal actions against the Trump administration so far — here’s a guide to the most notable ones.” Business Insider. November 26, 2017. Accessed May 1, 2018. http://www.businessinsider.com/aclu-lawsuits-vs-trump-administration-2017-10
  99. Davis, Kathleen. “How The ACLU Is Leading The Resistance.” Fast Company. May 4, 2017. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.fastcompany.com/40407576/how-the-aclu-is-leading-the-resistance
  100. “American Civil Liberties Union.” Discover The Networks. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/printgroupProfile.asp?grpid=6145
  101. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: American Civil Liberties Union. FY 2017. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/136213516
  102. “ACLU 2017 Annual Report.” ACLU Website. 2017. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/other/aclu-annual-report-2017
  103. “ACLU: Susan Herman.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/bio/susan-n-herman
  104. “ACLU: Anthony D. Romero.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/bio/anthony-d-romero
  105. “ACLU: David Cole.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/bio/david-cole
  106. “ACLU: Faiz Shakir.” ACLU Website. Undated. Accessed May 1, 2018. https://www.aclu.org/bio/faiz-shakir

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Natalie Montelongo
    National Campaign Strategist, Immigrant Rights
  2. Barry Steinhardt
    Former Associate Director
  3. Nan Aron
    Former Staff Lawyer, National Prison Project
  4. Chloe Cockburn
    Former Employee

Child Organizations

  1. People Power (Non-profit)

Donation Recipients

  1. #Cut50 (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: March - February
  • Tax Exemption Received: December 1, 1970

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Mar Form 990 $50,628,968 $41,974,931 $83,794,932 $60,752,478 Y $50,508,454 $0 $18,789 $689,106 PDF
    2014 Mar Form 990 $36,933,127 $37,030,460 $27,488,272 $38,466,524 Y $36,824,175 $0 $15,830 $734,422 PDF
    2013 Mar Form 990 $34,724,259 $36,898,765 $23,942,179 $51,365,284 Y $34,615,205 $0 $6,023 $677,750 PDF
    2012 Mar Form 990 $33,858,928 $31,899,743 $25,400,931 $45,885,728 Y $33,691,433 $0 $12,690 $638,060 PDF

    Filings Without Data

    American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

    125 BROAD STREET
    NEW YORK, NY 10004-2400