Anthony D. Romero is the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation’s premier defender of civil liberties. He took the helm of the organization just seven days before the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Throughout Romero’s tenure, the ACLU has pursued aggressive litigation and advocacy around the greatest injustices of our time, including: challenging the injustices of the war on terror; fighting to close Guantánamo; winning the freedom to marry for same-sex couples; ending the patenting of human genes; reducing mass incarceration and combating racial disparities within the criminal justice system; ensuring federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ workers; bringing 434 legal actions against the Trump administration; launching a nationwide Systemic Equality campaign for racial justice; enshrining the right to abortion in state constitutions; and fighting the assaults on transgender rights and dignity.
An attorney with a history of public interest activism, Romero has presided over the most successful growth in the ACLU’s history, dramatically increasing its membership, national and affiliate staff, and increasing the headquarters’ budget ten-fold. He also led a dramatic expansion of the ACLU’s presence in the American South and in battleground states. This unprecedented growth enabled the ACLU to expand its nationwide litigation, lobbying, political advocacy, and public education efforts. Given the limits of federal and Supreme Court litigation, Romero also oversaw the ACLU’s expansion into high-impact political work and state court advocacy. A nonpartisan organization, the ACLU advances civil liberties and civil rights without respect to political affiliation. It works with Republicans and Democrats, and locks horns with both.
Romero is the ACLU’s sixth executive director and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity. In 2005, Romero was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America, and he has received dozens of public service awards and an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York School of Law.
In 2007, Romero co-authored “In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror,” a book that takes a critical look at civil liberties in this country at a time when constitutional freedoms are in peril.
Born in New York City to parents who hailed from Puerto Rico, Romero was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He is a graduate of Stanford University Law School and the Princeton University School of Public Policy and International Affairs. He is a member of the New York Bar Association and has sat on numerous nonprofit boards.