Published May 1, 2006
ACLU — Defending Everyone’s Constitutional Rights
The ACLU works daily in the courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States. The nonpartisan, nonprofit ACLU is neither liberal nor conservative, Democrat or Republican–our mission is simply to fight for individual rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
There are thousands of examples of cases or actions the ACLU has taken that challenge the traditionally held perceptions of the organization. Following are a few, in which the ACLU was either direct or amicus counsel.
Defending Conservatives’ Rights
• Supported Senator Larry Craig’s attempt to have his guilty plea withdrawn, citing the Minnesota law under which he was arrested as being unconstitutionally broad, with the potential of ensnaring and criminalizing legal, constitutionally protected free speech.
• Supporting Rush Limbaugh’s request to protect the privacy of his personal medical information.
• Supporting Oliver North’s appeal of his conviction in the Iran-Contra affair on the grounds that his testimony was used against him in violation of his Fifth Amendment protections.
• Helped the Rev. Jerry Falwell win a ruling that the state of Virginia must allow churches to incorporate.
• Defended a college Republican club’s right to award a $250 “whites only” scholarship as a statement about affirmative action.
Defending Free Speech
• Successfully defended a Fallbrook High sophomore who was disciplined for wearing to school a small American flag in her back pocket.
• Supported a Poway High student who wore a t-shirt saying God condemns homosexuality. The ACLU argued that the anti-gay t-shirt did not amount to harassment that the school was permitted to punish.
Defending Religious Liberty
• Publicly commented supporting the right of student-led prayer at a Mission Hills High football game, noting that since it was spontaneously initiated by students, was voluntary, and that school officials were not involved, it would be unconstitutional to prevent the exercise of free speech.
• Numerous cases defending the rights of evangelical Christians and others to preach on public streets.
• Successfully intervened on behalf of a Christian high school student with a religious message in her yearbook; the school no longer censors religious yearbook entries.
• Has defended the rights of carolers to sing outside a woman’s prison on Christmas Eve; to hand out candy canes with religious messages; and to distribute Christian literature in public schools during non-instructional times.
• Secured a favorable settlement for a nurse who was fired for wearing a cross-shaped lapel pin on her uniform.
• Represented and vindicated the free speech and religious expression of a conservative Christian activist who had been denied access to broadcast her message on public television.