American Civil Liberties Union

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was formed in 1920 by Crystal Eastman, Roger Baldwin and Walter Nelles.  The ACLU was the successor organization of the National Civil Liberties Bureau, founded during World War I.  The ACLU consists of two separate non-profit organizations: the ACLU Foundation, a 501(c) (3) organization which focuses on litigation and communication efforts, and the American Civil Liberties Union, a 501(c) (4) organization which focuses on legislative lobbying.

The aim of ACLU is to tackle the issues such as — racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, and censorship.  The ACLU defends and preserves the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.  It works through litigation, legislation, and community education.

The ACLU has its national headquarters in New York City.  This organization has 53 local affiliates and associated chapters, and each of them constituted with staff and a board of directors.  Generally, the affiliates communicate to state or equivalent lines. These affiliates maintain a certain amount of governing autonomy from the national organization, and are able to work independently from each other.

Lawsuits brought by the ACLU have been influential in the evolution of Constitutional law. The ACLU provides legal assistance in cases in which it considers civil liberties to be at risk. Even when the ACLU does not provide direct legal representation, it often submits amicus curiae briefs.

Outside of its legal work, the organization has also engaged in lobbying of elected officials and political activism. The ACLU has been critical of elected officials and policies of both Democrats and Republicans.

The ACLU has over 500,000 members at the end of 2005.


ACLU, 125 Broad Street,
18th Floor, New York NY 10004

Tel: 212-549-2500

American Civil Liberties Union Website

Inside American Civil Liberties Union