Is the ACLU a defender of freedoms for Americas or a liberal lobby group trying to destroy all that makes America great?

Sorry, that is not a valid binary question. People whose ox has been gored will tend to demonize them. People whose pet cause has been championed by them will tend to lionize them.

In reality, there is not one monolithic ACLU (the various court cases are taken on a chapter by chapter basis) although they certainly tend to favor certain Amendments of the Bill of Rights over others.

The Religious Right excoriates them for opposing the imposition of “Christian” icons on secular or state events and property while ignoring the cases in which they have defended the right of students to read bibles in school.
On the other hand, it is difficult to find many cases in which the ACLU fought vigorously for gun ownership.

They are certainly more to the left than the right (in a United States that currently leans to the political Right), but they are neither completely heroes or villains.

The ACLU has worked to protect the civil liberties of all Americans, regardless of thier political views. The only reason they keep getting tarred as a “liberal” group from the Right is because some of the goals of the Right involve repealing civil rights.

Consider this: after the passage of the Patriot Act, the ACLU reported that membership enrollment tripled from Republicans. Being concerned for your civil rights is a non-partisan issue.

IMHO they are usually a big pain in the ass, but a necessary one. I usually have to think long and hard before I agree with them. As to some of their most recent stands I’m still thinking…

Since you brought up the subject, what is your opinion?

I don’t know enough about this subject ot have an informed opinion, that is why I asked the question.

The United States is a schizoid country. Most of the founders were Freemasons. Teddy Roosevelt called Thomas Paine “a filthy little atheist.”

The ACLU is closer to the philosophy upon which this country is based. The RIGHT gives lip service to that philosophy while trying to subvert it.
Dal Timgar

The ACLU is mostly libertarian, except for their complete unwillingness to defend gun rights. So I guess you could call them liberal, but that’s really the only place the ACLU and libertarians disagree.

I’ve seen this said a number of times here. When I saw Nadine Strossen speak to our civil liberties group here a few years ago she said that the ACLU sought to defend interpretations of rights established by precedent and that their self-styled “neutral” position on “gun rights” was consistent with their general stance on defending established rights. I see their policy is:

I understand that some people would like to see them advocate a broader interpretation of your Constitution, but is the current position really inconsistent with their other stances?


Why do you say that?

Yeah, great debate technique there, Snoopyfan.

It seems to me that the best way to start in determining what you should think about the ACLU is to read the list of legal cases that they have been involved with on their website:

Along the right is a list of various main legal issues. Click on each of these. On the linked webpages, there is a list of subissues for each of these main issues, each with a webpage on what the ACLU has done. (Yes, I realize that this is a lot to read.) Obviously, this is allowing them to define what they think the issues are, but they are pretty thorough about telling you just what sorts of judicial issues they get involved in.

Unfortunately, arguing whether what they are doing is good involves arguing whether the ACLU has intervened on the right side in each of these issues. That would take a GD thread on each of the issues. Your opinion on the ACLU will mostly depend on what position you take on each of these issues.

SnoopyFan: What specific things that make America great are the ACLU trying to destroy?

The ACLU pisses me off mightily, and repeatedly! They seem to have little notion of the political effect they have, and simply stick to a relentless defense of principle. I grind my teeth in pique every time I write them a check.

A little from Column ‘A’ and a little from Column ‘B’…

I understand that some people would like to see them advocate a broader interpretation of your Constitution, but is the current position really inconsistent with their other stances?

I don’t think the ACLU limits itself only to established rights. The ACLU has been perfectly willing to fight for new rights.

Overall, I think the ACLU is wonderful. If my only complaint is that they don’t fight for enough rights, I really don’t have much to complain about, do I? I’ve got the NRA to fight for gun rights.

Geshundheit, by the way.

Grin! Very, very nicely said, sir!

One might say, in Wildean fashion, the only thing worse than a nation in which Nazis are free to march in public is a nation where Nazis are not free to march in public.

re guns…there are ten gun shops within easy walking distance of my work-place…and another fifteen within a strenuous walk of where I live. They are all fully-stocked with rifles, shotguns, pistols, ammunition, and other paraphernalia. I can’t for the life of me imagine that my right to own a gun is in any way imperiled.


You can also go out on the street and shout how much Bush sucks (without threatening him), or read any newspaper you like, or be guaranteed that if you are put in jail, you will have a speedy trial and a competent defense. The point of the ACLU is not to fight for the average Joe’s right to exercise his rights on a daily and ordinary basis. The ACLU (just like the NRA) fights the extreme cases, where the boundaries of the law are really being pushed, so as to ultimately protect the rights of the average Joe. The sort of cases the ACLU would take on if they defended gun rights would be things like federal registries of gun owners and which/how many guns they have, or a denial of so-called assault weapons. That is the proper analogy, not your silly non-sequitur.