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FAQ About ACLU

 

Who started ACLU?

The ACLU was founded by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Albert DeSilver and others in 1920.

Why did they start it?

In response to the delapadated state of civil liberties in the 1920's, the organization was founded to protect America’s original civic values - the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In the 1920's "ACLU fought the campaign of harassment and deportation ordered by U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer against politically radical immigrants, supported the right of Industrial Workers of the World members and other trade unionists to hold meetings and organize, and secured the release of hundreds of activists imprisoned for their anti-war views and activities." Till this day, it not only works to safeguard rights such as freedom of speech, equal protection under the law, due process, and privacy, but also works to gain rights for segments of the population which have traditionally been denied many basic rights under the law. The ACLU believes strongly that if the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.

How many members are in ACLU?

There are nearly 400,000 members and supporters across the nation. In the NCSU Chapter, there are currently about 10 active members and 40 supporters that are involved through our listserve.

What has the National ACLU done in the past and what is it doing now?

Nationally, the ACLU handles nearly 6,000 court cases each year, all of which aim to protect the constitutional rights of the American public. There are countless issues that have been dealt with, but many deal with the rights of groups, such as women, students, voters, gays and lesbians, immigrants, and the poor. To learn more about the various issues that the ACLU has supported in the past and continues to support, visit the national ACLU website at www.aclu.org.

What issues does NCSU’s ACLU chapter get involved with?

The focus of the NCSU chapter is issues that directly impact students. Most recently, we have been working with the student government to gain support of the University’s Administration to denounce the Nuisance Party Ordinance. The next step is taking these concerns to the city council. We have been involved in the national effort to fight against the civil liberties violations in the Patriot Act, as well as the local effort to get a moratorium on the death penalty in North Carolina.

How active is the NCSU chapter?

The NCSU chapter is becoming increasingly more active. There are always national campaigns going on that we can support and local issues we can work on; we can truly be as active as we want to be.

Who do we support?

Everyone. At NC State, we generally focus on student issues, but have also participated in many national efforts. Anyone who feels that his/her constitutional rights have been violated is welcome to share their concerns with us, and we will take whatever action we find to be appropriate with regards to the matter.

How much of my time will the ACLU consume if I participate?

This depends on the individual. Our active members often devote several hours a week to our organization, attending meetings, advertising, and participating in our various activities. However, there are also many people on our listserve that choose to support the ACLU, but do not consistently spend time participating in our organization.

Is ACLU only for liberals?

This is a misconception that many people have of the ACLU. The ACLU is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. The ACLU never endorses any candidates of either party and has defended the rights of people from all over the political spectrum. Recently, the organization has been providing legal assistance and support to Rush Limbaugh, who has often been a critic of the ACLU, because his privacy rights may have been violated. The non-partisan nature of the ACLU has been one of the most important and most notable aspects of its mission. Everyone is welcome with the ACLU, regardless of your political affiliation.


Do I have to agree with everything ACLU says to be an active member?

No. One of the great parts about our organization is that members get to choose what they want to focus on. Some of our members are passionate about the Nuisance Party Ordinance, while still others are passionate about the death penalty or ballot access issues. Although there are many members of our organization who are active in all of these areas, there are others who choose to participate in certain campaigns and not in others.

Who joins ACLU?

Anyone interested in the protection of civil liberties in the United States should join the ACLU.

Why should I join ACLU?

If you are interested in the protection of constitutional rights, you should join the ACLU. Even if you only want to focus on a particular issue, such as reproductive freedom or the Nuisance Party Ordinance, joining the ACLU will give you a base of students with whom you can share your ideas and you can work with to achieve your goals. It is important for students to become active participants in the betterment of their community, and this is an easy step to take because working with others to promote a common cause is always easier, more effective, and more fun than working alone.

 
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