American Civil Liberties Union

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) consists of two separate non-profit organizations: the ACLU Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization which focuses on litigation and communication efforts, and the American Civil Liberties Union, a 501(c)(4) organization which focuses on legislative lobbying.[2] The ACLU's stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States."[1][3] It works through litigation, legislation, and community education.[1] Founded in 1920 by Crystal Eastman, Roger Baldwin and Walter Nelles,[4] the ACLU was the successor organization to the earlier National Civil Liberties Bureau founded during World War I.[5] The ACLU reported over 500,000 members in 2010.

Lawsuits brought by the ACLU have been influential in the evolution of Constitutional law.[6] The ACLU provides legal assistance in cases in which it considers civil liberties to be at risk. Even when the ACLU does not provide direct legal representation, it often submits amicus curiae briefs. The organization's present aims include getting the U.S. government to disclose the legal standard it uses to place U.S. citizens on government assassination lists.[7]

Outside of its legal work, the organization has also engaged in lobbying of elected officials and political activism.[8] The ACLU has been critical of elected officials and policies of both Democrats and Republicans.

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