Is the ACLU trustworthy?


Fact Box

  • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was established in 1920 to “defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people” in the United States.
  • The Scopes trial was one of the ACLU’s most famous cases that supported a Tennessee science teacher defying a law that banned teaching evolution theory. The Union was also engaged with the Sacco-Vanzetti case, the Scottsboro case, and a Jehovah’s Witness case, among others. 
  • According to an AllSides Media Bias rating of 6,080 reviews, the ACLU has been determined to have a bias that leans Left or liberal. 
  • Critiques of the ACLU assert that the organization “uses the courts to subvert the Constitution, protect criminals, and attack religion.”

Stephanie (Yes)

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is an organization that addresses egregious civil liberty abuses in the US. They fight for America's rights, such as free speech, the right to an education, and the right to a fair trial in court. The group has made great strides to create a fairer society. Cases like Brown V. The Board of Education, which allowed schools to become fully desegregated, demonstrate how the ACLU cemented its role as a champion for equality. Their role allows society to put their trust in an independent group willing to change unjust laws, such as enabling schools to desegregate fully. 

The organization has thoroughly proved its trustworthiness by being unbiased in its pursuit of civil liberties, such as protecting the right to free speech of all kinds of different groups. They have fought for the right to attend communist rallies, make disparaging comments about Presidents, and even for the KKK to rightfully and peacefully congregate

As a charitable organization, they also prove their trustworthiness by presenting a transparent discussion of what donations are used for. They've been given an A grade by the group Charity Watch, where it has been outlined that the ACLU completes full and correct filings with the IRS and promotes its own Whistleblower Policy, which allows employees to discuss unethical practices in the organization without repercussions. 

Further, they present themselves as trustworthy by representing any group that has experienced an abuse of their rights while also contributing to worthy causes by allowing those inside their organization to make charitable donations. Society genuinely benefits when groups like the ACLU exist to hold higher powers accountable and to keep regular Americans' rights safe and protected.

Curtice (No)

The ACLU was once the premier defender of constitutional rights in the US, primarily free speech. Often, it took positions that were unpopular at the time. For example, it opposed Japanese internment camps during WWII and defended a neo-Nazi group's right to march in Skokie, Illinois, in the 1970s. It once drew the ire of both the political Left and Right. Sadly, the ACLU has since lost its way. Rather than defending free speech, including speech deemed unpopular or offensive, it has now become just another 'hyper-partisan, hard-left political advocacy group' unwilling to upset left-wing sensibilities

The ACLU once defended religious liberties, but no longer. It has explicitly endorsed the view that free speech can harm 'marginalized' groups and refuses to defend speech considered harmful to such groups. This is according to its own guidelines, 'Conflicts Between Competing Values or Priorities,' for determining case selection, i.e., which cases it chooses to take on. Missing is a discussion about defending constitutional liberties. In 2020 it sued to prevent due process from being added back into Title IX sexual harassment cases for the accused on college campuses.  

The ACLU is biased toward the Left, as its workers have donated millions to Democrat politicians and priorities over the years without ever giving to Republicans. This shows they are rooted in partiality and will support progressive causes

These are but a few examples of where and how the ACLU has strayed from its initially stated purpose. It now isn't much different from the New York Times, Washington Post, or the pre-Musk Twitter, checking first to see if any particular speech aligns with standard left-wing ideals. It is now only concerned with speech that offends the 'right' people.

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