ACLU Announces Expansion Plan to Fight Trump Policies

The last several weeks have been breathless and agonizing — but also exhilarating — for us at the ACLU. 

Breathless because President Trump began actually putting his unconstitutional campaign promises into reality. Agonizing because his policies have begun impacting peoples’ lives. And exhilarating because of how the public has responded to our opposition to his policies. 

Before President Trump took office, many believed that his proposed plans were simply campaign rhetoric and that he wouldn’t actually try to implement such blatantly un-American and unconstitutional policies. But if there is one thing we have learned since his inauguration, it’s that he is intent on making his promises a reality. He showed that with the executive orders to crack down on immigrants, with his pick for the Supreme Court, and with a Muslim ban, which we were able to stay in federal court the day after he imposed it.

In the coming days and weeks, President Trump will likely issue executive orders curtailing LGBT and reproductive rights. We anticipate that the Trump administration will ratchet up the detention and deportation machinery that will tear families apart. Communities will be profiled and targeted based on their skin color or perceived national origin. He may also move to defund Planned Parenthood. Taken together, Trump’s policies have the potential to affect the lives of millions of Americans in heartbreaking ways. And when this happens, we will go to court to defend the constitutional rights of immigrants and citizens alike — just like we have these past two weeks. 

This is what we do. It’s why the ACLU was created.

The day Trump took the oath of office we filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding any and all government documents that addressed conflicts of interest and violations of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. We did so because President Trump has refused to sell or place his businesses in a blind trust. We are now searching for a business competitor to Trump who would have standing to challenge the violation of the Emoluments Clause. 

There is no limit to how big a resistance to Trump we can build at the ACLU. 

During Trump’s first week in office, we filed a constitutional challenge to Trump’s Muslim ban. We now have several cases challenging its constitutionality — including in New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Just last week, 50 ACLU affiliates filed coordinated Freedom of Information Act requests seeking information from Customs and Border Protection field offices about how the Muslim ban was interpreted and implemented at airports across the country. And we have another lawsuit in the works to file the minute Trump tries to allow federal government employees and agencies the right to discriminate in the areas of LGBT and reproductive rights under the guise of religious freedom. 

The protests across the country — in the streets and at airports and courthouses — have been truly exhilarating. I was stunned to come out of the courthouse in Brooklyn following our emergency hearing last week to stop the Muslim ban and find hundreds of people chanting, “A-C-L-U! We are here to stand with you.”

The public response to our opposition to the policies and orders of President Trump has been astonishing. Almost 1 million people have made online donations to the ACLU. Our membership has now more than doubled since the election. The spontaneous public support to our work has also swelled the list of our activists. More than 1 million have signed up to follow us on Facebook, and our Twitter following has tripled.   

All in, we have received over $79 million in new contributions online since the election, with the average donation being $79, which for many is a significant chunk of money. This surge of contributions towards our annual $220 million budget will allow us to scale up in significant ways to build a war chest for future battles.

We plan to spend over $40 million to build up our state offices. Among advocacy groups, the ACLU is the only organization with boots on the ground in every state. Even as we fight at the federal level, the front lines may well be in Florida, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Georgia — critical states with large populations that decide the trajectory of national politics. The second tier of priority states for growth is Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia. Already, we see anti-reproductive rights laws, anti-immigrant bills, and anti-Muslim policies being introduced in state legislatures.  

We are also taking a close look at those states where the politics are in flux — where our advocacy can be particularly impactful as people go to the polls to vote in the near future. This infusion of $40 million into our state offices will turn into 100 new ACLU staff positions in places where litigators and advocates can make a real difference.

We also plan to spend over $13 million to build a grassroots member-mobilization program. With the surge of new members, we now have a growing army of people who don’t just want to write a check. They want to join the fight. We will be asking our volunteers and members to join our team and partner with us to do grassroots calls-to-action, local town halls, lobby days, acts of protest, and engagement on our core priorities. Ultimately, we want to have our membership surpass that of the National Rifle Association. We are now half the size of the NRA, but with continued growth, mobilization, and activism, we can build an even bigger force across a broader range of issues.

We plan to spend over $21 million to hire new lawyers, advocates, and other staff in the headquarters of the ACLU to strengthen the core functioning of the headquarters. We are still the David to the government’s Goliath. We have 300 litigators on payroll nationwide — 100 of them in our headquarters. The government has over 19,000 lawyers on its payroll. 11,000 of them belong to Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department if he’s confirmed as the next attorney general.

I am confident that we will win many of our cases. Even in those that we might lose, our litigation will frame the controversies for the public to understand and engage with us in the advocacy. At the very least, if we carpet-bomb the Trump administration with lawsuits, we can rob it of momentum and gum up the machinery of its anti-civil liberties and anti-civil rights agenda. This litigation is expensive and time-consuming. The average case takes between two and three years, with some lasting a decade or more. As we ramp up our litigation and advocacy, we need to have the staying power to keep up after President Trump all four years and beyond.  

Finally, we will spend $5 million in infrastructure, new office space, and expansion of operations to get this work done. This overhead pays for database systems to house our growing membership base and new office space to accommodate new staff. Rest assured that we will put the bulk of the money into real programs: Our program/management ratio is 86 percent program, 14 percent management, including fundraising. 

We are poised to launch a full-throttle response to whatever lies ahead over the next four years. There is no limit to how big a resistance to Trump we can build at the ACLU. It has been our history for over 97 years to fight the worst assaults against justice, equality, and democracy. It is our mission — our mandate — to rise to that challenge again.

With your help, we will continue to do so.  

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Anonymous

I would dearly like to know how much the ACLU received in donations between 2/3 -2/5 2017. Cafes across our nation donated portions of, or all of their profits, with some coffee companies matching their gifts; an Art Auction was held to raise funds for the ACLU; Band Camp donated sales and some record labels gave matching or "percentage-of" donations; Super Bowl fans took to Twitter to urge the fans to give to the ACLU; and, lastly, I know that the grass roots contributors have increased their donations and the size of their donations. It would be gratfying to learn what we have managed to pool together for this VERY WORTHY ORGANIZATION.

I, myself, give a monthly donation; I also give some "extra" here and there throughout the month.
HONESTLY, fellow members and friends......we should ALL give monthly and give "extra" whenever we are able. YOU WOULD BE AMAZED AT THE MONEY WE COULD RAISE WITH EVEN modest "extra" monies donated above our regular monthly donations.
THIS ORGANIZATION'S WORK IS TO PROTECT OUR RIGHTS , PARTICULARLY AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME. THE MONEY WE KEEP DONATING WILL ALLOW THE ACLU TO GUARD AND FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHTS LIKE A MOTHER LION PROTECTING HER CUBS. MONEY YOU SPEND ON THE ACLU BUYS YOU THE BEST OF LEGAL TEAMS AND BEAUTIFUL PEACE OF MIND. The money you give the ACLU BUYS YOU PEACE OF MIND, FOR YOU KNOW THAT YOU HAVE PLACED YOUR WORRIES AND FRETS OVER TRUMP'S ACTIONS IN THE HANDS OF YOUR LARGE CADRE OF EXCEPTIONAL ATTORNEYS. They WILL ALWAYS USE YOUR MONEY WISELY, SO YOU CAN WORRY AND FRET FAR LESS OVER THIS "MESS" CALLED A PRESIDENCY. THE ACLU WILL FIGHT TO RETAIN A DEMOCRACY, DESPITE THE FACT THAT MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS STATE THAT "TRUMP is predisposed to becoming a DICTATOR".The ACLU WILL MEET TRUMP EVERYWHERE HE TURNS.

SO, GIVE ALL YOU CAN (however great or small) AS OFTEN AS YOU ARE ABLE. OUR DONATIONS ARE THE GASOLINE THAT WILL KEEP THE ACLU ROLLING OVER INJUSTICE, ILLEGALITIES AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL ACTIONS.
Let us do OUR part so the ACLU may do THEIR PART ON OUR BEHALF! STAND TALL; STAND STRONG EVERYBODY!.

Adam

Without Lex Luther, Superman is just a particularly buff guy. Heroes rise when villains do.
It's ACLU's time.

Anonymous

As an atheist, veteran, white male in my 50's, social libertarian, and small government fiscal conservative with the highest regard for our Constitution .... the ACLU totally loses me in their support for causes that are "politically" liberal while ignoring Constitutional issues that affect us all. Where is the ACLU for all the law-abiding motorcyclists who got locked up out in Waco. This is still going on and nary a peep from the ACLU. Face it ... the ACLU has become nothing more than a political activism organization for the the Democrat Party. Nobody takes them seriously as an organization concerned with protecting the civil liberties of "all" ... it only exists for the benefit of certain minority voting demographics of the Democrat Party. (no ... I didn't vote for Trump)

Anonymous

I agree. Their message is not for all. Im a veteran. Fought in desert confluct

Anonymous

I agree. Their message is not for all. Im a veteran. Fought in desert confluct

Anonymous

Among others, The ACLU has defended the constitutional rights of the KKK, the Tea Party, the American National Socialist (Nazi) Party, the Westboro Baptist Church, Chick-fil-A and Rush Limbaugh... not many Democrats in that list.

I'm sure if they were asked and there were constitutional rights being denied they would assist...

Anonymous

I totally agree, it seems the opposite of ACLU- Anti-American's Civil Liberties- has become the message I am hearing....

Patriot

Stop trying to frame the ACLU as a one-sided mission. For example, it has simultaneously protected the right of children to bring Bibles to school, while opposing the use of government land and funds to erect Christmas displays in the absence of other free religious expression. If you observe a violation of civil liberty, let them know. Conservative or liberal, white or black, gay or straight, Republican or Democrat - yes, they challenged Obama too - the ACLU will protect right from wrong.

Anonymous

I dint mind the protest as long as they are done peacefully. Block a road well your going to get ran over. Please stop messing with the working Americans who have to get to work and dont have time to mess with protesters who for some reason have a very bad combative message instead of unity or peace. Not winning many over that way

saipan dan

It's not cool to say that you would run over peaceful protestors. That's like sicking dogs on peaceful marchers in Selma. Not an American value.

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