American Civil Liberties Union

From Ohio History Central
American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.jpg
American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Logo

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a non-governmental agency dedicated to the preservation of individual liberties guaranteed by United States Constitution's Bill of Rights and by the 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution.

The ACLU originally was known as the National Civil Liberties Bureau. Formed in 1917, this group initially assisted conscientious objectors of World War I to escape the military draft and possible imprisonment for their beliefs. In 1920, the National Civil Liberties Bureau became known as the American Civil Liberties Union. Throughout the twentieth century, the ACLU fought for the rights of American citizens. During the 1920s, the group vocally opposed the arrest and deportation of immigrants who had not committed any crimes in the United States. The ACLU also opposed the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, because the prisoners did not receive a hearing before a civil court. Historically, the ACLU also has opposed the posting of the Ten Commandments in schools or government buildings, as well as the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at government or school events. In recent years, the organization has taken a leading role in opposing the Patriot Act, which the United States government implemented in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

As of 2005, the ACLU boasted 500,000 members. The organization has chapters across the United States, including one in Ohio. In recent years, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has fought against Ohio's own Patriot Act. It also has opposed the limiting of rights to same sex couples in the state, as well as objecting to the introduction of intelligent design in Ohio's classrooms. The ACLU of Ohio's home office is located in Cleveland.

See Also


  1. Kutulas, Judy. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Making of Modern Liberalism, 1930-1960. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006.  
  2. Walker, Samuel. In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1999.