How the ACLU Works
The ACLU is a 50-state network of staffed affiliate offices in most major cities, more than 300 chapters in smaller towns, and regional offices in Denver and Atlanta. Work is coordinated by a national office in New York, aided by a legislative office in Washington that lobbies Congress. The ACLU has more than a dozen national projects devoted to specific civil liberties issues: AIDS, arts censorship, capital punishment, children’s rights, education reform, lesbian and gay rights, immigrants’ rights, national security, privacy and technology, prisoners’ rights, reproductive freedom, voting rights, women’s rights and workplace rights.
The ACLU has more than 60 staff attorneys, who collaborate with at least 2,000 volunteer attorneys in handling close to 6,000 cases annually — making the ACLU the largest public interest law firm in the nation. The ACLU appears before the U.S. Supreme Court more than any other organization except the U.S. Department of Justice.
“So long as we have enough people in this country willing to fight for their rights, we’ll be called a democracy.”
ACLU founder Roger Baldwin
The ACLU is governed by an 84-member national Board of Directors which has one representative from each state affiliate and 30 at-large members elected by the affiliate and national boards. The affiliate boards, in turn, are elected by all ACLU members within their jurisdiction. On a day-to-day basis, each affiliate is autonomous and makes its own decisions about which cases to take and which issues to emphasize. They collaborate with the national office in pursuit of common goals.
Click here to learn more about ACLU affiliates across the country.