Free Essay

American Civil Liberties Union: Strategy and Vision

In: Social Issues

Submitted By kjamnun
Words 1623
Pages 7
Khalif Nunnally-Rivera

The American Civil Liberties Union: Strategy and Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union, otherwise known as the ACLU, has an extensive and influential history in the United States. The ACLU has ambitious legislative goals in the near future. In order to accomplish these goals, this interest group must fight vigorously for the public’s hearts and minds, as well as the democratic power of Congress. The organization started in the year 1920 after years of anti-war protests and the Red Scare that lead to the infamous Palmer Raids. A group of citizens banded together with the purpose of protecting the basic rights of everyday Americans. While initially, most of the ACLU’s support was directed towards socialist and communist rights, the organization eventually expanded to include minority groups oppressed by discrimination, women’s rights groups, and virtually any citizen who felt their civil liberties had been violated.
The goal of the ACLU is to make sure that everyone in the United States is equally protected by the Bill of Rights from government abuse. Although the ACLU is a non-partisan organization, its views tend to typically lean towards the left, and many of its supporters tend to be either liberal or libertarian ( The interest group tends to run into controversy often since it is willing to defend the rights of certain infamous groups such as the Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. It’s important to note that the American Civil Liberties Union is the nation's largest public interest law firm ( The ACLU provides a voice for those who otherwise wouldn’t have one in this country. The ACLU tackles a host of social and libertarian issues in the United States every year. Some of the major concerns that have been brought to light by the ACLU recently include the privacy violations committed by the National Security Agency, prison reform, abortion, and same-sex marriage ( On both the state level and the national level, the ACLU has fought for new legislation concerning each of these well known disputes. By using a combination of both insider and outsider strategies the ACLU is able to effectively sway policymakers into supporting their groups causes. Public opinion also plays a huge role in the ACLU’s policy influence. This is due to the fact that this organization fights for the basic rights of common, everyday Americans. With a membership of over 500,000 people, it’s not hard to see why swaying public opinion might not be such a hard task for this organization ( Since the ACLU has such a large scope of issue areas, a prominent history, a wide range of political supporters, this interest usually doesn’t have an issue getting it’s voice heard throughout the country. In the wake of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks, the ACLU quickly sprung into action over concerns that the privacy of millions of Americans could be put at risk. The ACLU has multiple ways of lobbying and pushing policies that they want to be enacted forward. One tool that the ACLU always has at their disposal is the threat of litigation. This tactic is a come practice and has been repeated time and time again. The ACLU in particular is no stranger to this strategy. According to this public interest group appears before the U.S. Supreme Court more than any other organization, besides the Department of Justice of course. The ACLU has since filed a lawsuit against the United States government for the alleged unconstitutional spying activities. They are currently battling the case in a Manhattan Federal court. An ACLU victory in this case would result in widespread overhaul to the NSA’s massive data gathering tactics. This case is an example of how the ACLU can use insider tactics in order to push their policies forward. However, this organization can also use public support to help spark a change in the federal law. Using an online petition is an example of how interest groups can reach out to the general population and make sure that the voice of the public is heard by Congress. Currently on the ACLU home website there is a petition in progress. The goal of this petition is to influence Congress into passing legislation that repeals section 215 of the Patriot Act and section 702 of FISA. Their objective is to reach 40,000 signatures, in order to bring their concerns to Congress. Although one would expect that concern over privacy would vary among party lines, surprisingly, both Democrats and Republicans agree that NSA privacy violations are a major concern in the U.S.. According to a Post-ABC poll in July of 2013, 70 percent of democrats and 77 percent of republicans believe that NSA spying intruded on American’s privacy rights (Clement 2013). These statistics make the ACLU’s job a bit easier since they will not have to sway as many politicians into fighting for NSA surveillance reform. In addition to its fight for ensuring privacy, the ACLU also fights for a host of other social issues in America in order to make sure that every American is viewed equally under the eyes of the Constitution. One high profile example of this battle for equal rights same-sex marriage debate. The ACLU is a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage rights. In order to pressure congress into passing legislation the ACLU can use similar tactics used in its battle for privacy and transfer them over to the battle for gay rights. One case that has recently been in the limelight concerns the legality of same-sex marriage in the state of Pennsylvania. Same-sex marriage is currently outlawed in the state of Pennsylvania and a lesbian couple, backed by the ACLU is trying to bring a change to this state’s policies (Gabriel 2013). By using the courts to fight on the behalf of this same-sex couple, the ACLU is able to sway public opinion as well as having a chance to change the minds of those officials in the justice system. Vary layers of insider and outsider strategies seem to work best for the ACLU when it comes to promoting new legislation. Also, by influencing individual state courts, the ACLU is able to build a wider network of support for their cause. This network will be crucial if the ACLU wishes to accomplish their primary goal of making same-sex marriage legal all over the United States. Each state will serve as a battleground for new legislation and ultimately this can only lead to the federal law being changed itself.
By far the most difficult feat to accomplish is winning the public’s approval on certain hotly contested debates such as same-sex marriage. In conservative states such as South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas, getting the public on your side will be a much more daunting task and may require more insider lobbying than outsider. Much like the struggle for interracial marriage rights and the fight against Jim Crow Laws, this modern day issues concerning same-sex marriage may very well take time for the people of these states to adjust to. If states completely rely on public opinion in order to influence new legislation, then the process of democracy is plagued by power abuse from the ruling majority. If states had always confided in the opinions of a state’s ruling majority, than the abolishment of Jim Crow Laws in the south would’ve been a much more lengthy process, and perhaps African-Americans wouldn’t have the civil rights they do now until many years later. Insider strategies and federal government influence are sometimes key in promoting legislation in states where the public opinion may not agree with the prefered cause.
One, final major piece of legislation that the ACLU is currently in the process of fighting for concerns prison reform in the United States. This kind of legislation is specifically targeting the worst possible criminal punishment besides the death penalty, life in prison without parole. The ACLU is opposed to such a harsh sentence being doled out, particularly for non-violent crimes. The goals of rehabilitation and restoration are suddenly snatched away. Instead of these benefits, these prisoners are placed in an unforgiving environment, where a sense of hopelessness tends to set it soon after. The ACLU argues that this is not only a civil liberties violation, at odds with the 8th Amendment of the Constitution describing “cruel and unusual punishment”, it is also a human rights issues concerning international law ( By bringing these realizations to the public and lobbying the Attorney General of the United States, working towards laws that could change the prison system can be made possible. A possible reform bill suggest by Attorney General Eric Holder is already in the process as we speak.
The American Civil Liberties Union is an interest group that stands by the people, and makes sure the laws enumerated by the Bill of Rights are equal for all Americans. Using the courts, their powerful legacy, and the common people to push their ideas forward, the ACLU will stand for unrestricted liberty. The organization truly lives up to their slogan. “Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself”

References: "American Civil Liberties Union." American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2013. . Gabriel, Trip. "A.C.L.U. Sues Pennsylvania Over Ban on Gay Marriage." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 9 July 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2013. . Clement, Scott. "Concern over NSA Privacy Violations Unites Democrats and Republicans, Poll Finds." The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 16 Aug. 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. .

"Rating Group: American Civil Liberties Union." Project Vote Smart, 2012. Web. 02 Dec. 2013. .

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Abraham Lincoln Second Inaugural Address Analysis

...Abraham Lincoln – 2nd Inaugural Address The Civil War was a time period where the nation was isolated into two regions, the emancipated North and the captive South. The war settled two constitutional questions, whether the United States was to be a segregated confederation of self-governing states or a unified nation with an autonomous national government, and whether this nation, where all men were conceive with an equal right to liberty, would prevail as the largest slaveholding country in the world. After bearing the nation’s agony on his shoulders for four lengthy years, President Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address deliberated the outgrowths of the civil war and revealed his vision of unity and forgiveness for the future of the nation. In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln adopts rhetorical devices appealing to his audience’s credibility and emotions to settle the purpose of his speech in merging a broken nation through the abolition of slavery. Lincoln articulates the cause of the war, slavery, in the saying “These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war”. Throughout the speech, he outlines American slavery as the harrowing offense that God wills to remove for the well-being and future of slaves. Lincoln insinuated to the common base the North and the South share, particularly religiously, as he asserts “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God.”...

Words: 532 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Leadership Lessons from Lincoln

...Lincoln’s reputation as a strong leader has stood the test of time from his career as a politician and lawyer to the president who preserved the union during a crucial turning point in our nation’s history. Lincoln’s unquenchable thirst for education and self-improvement formed the foundation for the leader he later became (Austell, 2006). Lincoln’s stepmother, Sarah Bush Johnston, was the first person in his life that understood the importance of education and encouraged Lincoln in his educational efforts (Herndon & Weik, 1888). Lincoln’s quest for knowledge was a lifelong journey that continued throughout his career as a lawyer and a politician, and helped him to earn the trust and admiration of colleagues and friends (Alvy & Robbins, 2010). Lincoln’s first office for the federal government was as postmaster at New Salem followed by multiple terms in the Illinois state legislature. Over time Lincoln’s influence within the Illinois legislature grew, in large part due to his ability to draft bills and laws (Burlingame, 2008). It was during his first term in the Illinois legislature that Lincoln was first encouraged to study law by John Todd Stuart, a colleague in the state legislature (Zall, 1999). In 1836 Lincoln received his law license and went into a partnership with Stuart the following year (Burlingame, 2008). Lincoln next partnered with Stephen Logan who helped Lincoln to develop a professional demeanor (Dirck, 2009)....

Words: 3117 - Pages: 13

Free Essay

Criminal Justice System Accessment

...Criminal Justice System Assessment Introduction The criminal justice system is a crucial feature of American culture and the foundation of the Bill of Rights within the United States Constitution. The sole intentions of the laws are to safeguard the people from harm, ensure the publics safety, and uniformly treated. The criminal justice system labors to safeguard the guiltless and discipline the responsible without infringing the right of the suspected offender, refraining from any corruption. As society progresses the criminal justice system must advance so it is vital to establish new laws remain current on the advancement and new trends. As contemporary issues and new trends evolve in society, they can endure a precise affect on the various roles of the criminal justice system, for example, sentencing policy, procedures, technologies, and capital punishment, which harbor immense impacts on the criminal justice system. Furthermore, corrections, courts, and the police additionally take part in establishing retribution. Contemporary and future trends are going to and have direct impacts on the duties of the criminal justice system. Recently technology has been influencing the criminal justice system and will remain. In the forever-changing world of technology, the criminal justice system must keep up with recently developed technologies....

Words: 1646 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay


...Eventually, Disney changed its strategy and things are now going more smoothly. The company changed the name of the park from EuroDisney to Disneyland...

Words: 2879 - Pages: 12

Premium Essay

Truman Doctrine

...The Truman doctrine was a US strategy to halt expansion of Soviet Union in the course of the Cold War. In this doctrine the then US President Harry S. Truman vowed to contain the spread of communism in the world particularly in Europe. This doctrine encouraged the US to back every country with both economic and military assistance if the Soviet Union or communism threats its stability. The aim of this paper is to review The Truman Doctrine was one of the significant historical approaches deployed between 1945 and 2008 that has had both negative and positive outcomes for the world. Historical Background In order to analyze the Truman doctrine and its different elements, it is necessary to consider the complex historical context in which it originated, and one that explains how a president such as Harry Truman, laid the foundations seated on the principles of the emerging American political realism after the Second World War (Bostdorff, 2008). The creation of international organizations like the UN itself and its Security Council, had brought hope back to the role, they were going to have to condition the behavior of the great powers towards peace, in a way that the League of Nations, in the thirties failed to achieve. However, this hope was short lived and proven wrong and paved the way for a new competition between the great powers. The Cold War highlighted a series of milestones that ended up producing...

Words: 2775 - Pages: 12

Premium Essay

Symbolic Interaction

...Bormann's theory provides a straightforward strategy of examining the relationship of group membership. One of the concepts that contribute with the symbolic convergence theory is fantasy themes. They take a small role in the composition of rhetorical visions, which are larger, longer, and more complex stories. Rhetorical visions are related points of view of the past, present, and the future. Fantasy themes are not considered fictitious stories, but rather...

Words: 2079 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Us Evolution of Foreign Policy

...Around the turn of the century Beveridge stated the case thusly: “American factories are making more than...

Words: 2477 - Pages: 10

Premium Essay

Lincoln Movie Leadership Analysis

...Fairhurst Leadership Communication 4008 8 December 2015 Lincoln Essay The year is 1865 and the Civil War death toll has risen just over six-hundred-thousand men. The freedoms sought out by our nation’s founders, now jeopardized by the secession of eleven states from the Union. The fate of The United States of America now laid upon the broad shoulders of our nations sixteenth commander-in-chief, President Abraham Lincoln. In a term marked by the burden of complete social upheaval, Abraham Lincoln was our nation’s foremost leader. The lawyer from Illinois navigated the only internal war in American history by embodying the principals taught by Professor Grint, utilizing a model of distributed leadership to gather the right information and implement change, and then merging these resources with his natural oratory abilities to unite a nation ruptured by domestic indifferences. His commitment to preserving the Union vindicated democracy and initialized the substratum which would be built upon to become the republic we know today. In the modern-day society we inhabit, the development and subsequent implementation of technology in daily activities has allowed our leaders rapid access to consistently accurate data....

Words: 1367 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

Labor Unions

...American labor unions benefitted greatly from the New Deal policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s. (Silverman, J., 2012) The Wagner Act, in particular, legally protected the right of unions to organize. Unions from this point developed increasingly closer ties to the Democratic Party, and are considered a backbone element of the New Deal...

Words: 2547 - Pages: 11

Free Essay


...Chapter 17 The Industrial Revolution ­Learning Outcomes After reading this chapter, you should be able to do the following: 17-1 Describe and discuss the development of the Industrial Revolution in America after the Civil War, concentrating on the major industries and their leaders. 17-2 Describe how America’s regional and local markets merged into one truly national market and how this influenced the consumer demand for products and services, as well as some of the costs associated with the transition. 17-3 Discuss the functioning of national, state, and local politics during the late 1800s. 17-4 Describe the formation of the early labor unions in the United States, including their goals, activities, and situations at the end of the nineteenth century. 290 C h apt e r 15 The Continued Move West “ The world that had consisted of small farms, artisans’ workshops, and small factories transformed into a full-scale industrial society. ” As the process of ensuring political, economic, and social rights of African Americans waned during the 1870s, most Americans turned their attenNo invention had more lasting impact than the incandestion to another transformation cent light bulb. brought on by the Civil War: the Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree Industrial Revolution....

Words: 10590 - Pages: 43

Premium Essay

Human Rights Regime Analysiss

...“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” -Eleanor Roosevelt Introduction Millions have suffered crimes against humanity. Millions are left poor, without any of the basic needs to survive. Millions more suffer in forced labor. Other millions are discriminated on because of their race, gender, and nationality. When do these millions become less, or none for that matter? When will crimes against humanity stop? When will one’s race not matter? “The idea of human rights has a long history, but only in the past century has the international community sought to galvanize a regime to promote and guard them” (Council on Foreign Relations, 2013, 1). Particularly, since the United Nations was created in 1945, the world community has cooperated to codify human rights in a universally recognized regime of treaties, institutions, and......

Words: 7129 - Pages: 29

Premium Essay

Political Systems

...They are the following: ANSWER: A) Totalitarianism= a system where Only one representative party which exhibits control over every facet of political and human life -Power maintained by suppression of opposition -Dominant ideals include media censorship, political representation, denial of rights, and civil liberties An example is People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Burma, Cuba, Vietnam, Libya and Saudi Arabia as well as Kuwait. B) Democracy=a system of government in which all the people of a state or polity ... are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by voting to elect representatives to a parliament or similar assembly -Democratic society cannot exist without at least a two-party system -Once elected, representative is held accountable to electorate for actions (which limits power of government) Examples include -Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania C) Dictatorship= A dictatorship occurs when one person has complete control of a nation. Dictators are often associated with brutality, violence and ruthlessness and typically use armed force and fear to keep citizens under control. -Examples include Belarus, Chad, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroun, Kazakhstan, Iran D) Monarchy= refers to a "royal family." Considered to be a type of autocracy, a monarchy is similar to a dictatorship minus the violence....

Words: 1630 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Pols Final Exam Review

...Federal Government Exam 1 Review: The first exam will consist of questions generated from the following review sheet. Make sure you understand each of these topics before proceeding to the test. The exam will be timed so you will not have the ability to peruse your notes or retake the exam. The exam itself will consist of 30 multiple choice questions and you will have 35 minutes to complete the exam. Federalism: The Basic elements of a Federal system of government (i.e. how is it structured/how power is shared) • Layers of gov • Equal power • Distinct powers Powers of the federal government: delegated powers, implied powers (necessary and proper clause), and concurrent powers. • Delegated Powers: (expressed/enumerated powers) powers given to the federal government directly by the constitution. Some most important delegated powers are: the authority to tax, regulated interstate commerce, authority to declare war, and grants the president role of commander and chief of the military • Implied Powers: Powers not expressed in the constitution, but that can be inferred. “Necessary and proper clause” • Concurrent powers: powers shared by both levels of government. Ex: Taxes, roads, elections, commerce, establishing courts and a judicial system • Reserved powers: powers not assigned by the constitution to the national government but left to the states or the people. Guaranteed by the 10th amendment. Include “police power”-health and......

Words: 37488 - Pages: 150

Free Essay

Internationa Business

...International Business - Environments and Operations Part One Background For International Business Chapter 1 Globalization and International Business Introduction Globalization is the ongoing process that deepens and broadens the relationships and interdependence among countries. International Business is a mechanism to bring about globalization. (The term sometimes refers to the integration of world economies through the reduction of barriers to the movement of trade, capital, technology, and people. Throughout recorded history, human contacts over ever-wider geographic areas have expanded the variety of available resources, products, services, and markets. Today, so many different components, ingredients, and specialized business activities go into products that we’re often challenged to say exactly where they were made. Example: Japanese firm Matsushita furnishes the CD player in the Korean-manufactured Kia Sorento.) International business consists of all commercial transactions—including sales, investments, and transportation—that take place between two or more countries Increasingly foreign countries are a source of both production and sales for domestic companies (These global activities enable us to get more variety, better quality, or lower prices. Private companies undertake such transactions for profit while governments may undertake them either for profit or for political reasons.) Studying International Business is Important * Most companies are......

Words: 15799 - Pages: 64

Premium Essay

Julius Ceasar

...HISTORY C O N T E N T S CHAPTER 1 Early America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 CHAPTER 2 The Colonial Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 CHAPTER 3 The Road to Independence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 CHAPTER 4 The Formation of a National Government . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 CHAPTER 5 Westward Expansion and Regional Differences . . . . . . . 110 CHAPTER 6 Sectional Conflict . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128 CHAPTER 7 The Civil War and Reconstruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140 CHAPTER 8 Growth and Transformation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154 CHAPTER 9 Discontent and Reform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188 CHAPTER 10 War, Prosperity, and Depression . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202 CHAPTER 11 The New Deal and World War I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212 CHAPTER 12 Postwar America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 256 CHAPTER 13 Decades of Change: 1960-1980 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 274 CHAPTER 14 The New Conservatism and a New World Order . . . . . . 304 CHAPTER 15 Bridge to the 21st Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 320 PICTURE PROFILES Becoming a Nation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Transforming a Nation...

Words: 104976 - Pages: 420