FAQs

 

What is the ACLU?

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Read more about the history and mission of the ACLU.

How do I join the ACLU?

The need has never been greater for freedom-loving people to join the ACLU. You can join online, by telephone 1-888-567-ACLU, or by sending a check to ACLU Membership Department, 125 Broad Street, 18th floor, New York, NY 10004. Take a stand against the growing threats to our most cherished Constitutional liberties.

I'm already an ACLU member. How can I contribute now?

The ACLU accepts donations online, by telephone 1-888-567-ACLU, or by sending a check to ACLU Membership Department, 125 Broad Street, 18th floor, New York, NY 10004. You can also join the Action Network to hear about pressing issues. Please visit the Action Center, where you will find a wealth of resources to keep you informed and involved.

I care about the issues. What can I do?

The ACLU Action Center has a number of current action alerts that help you take action on a range of important issues. You can also join the ACLU Action Network and subscribe to weekly action alerts on the key issues and send free faxes to your members of Congress.

I feel my rights were violated. Who can help?

Contact your local ACLU affiliate about your experience.

How do I reprint ACLU materials?

Unless specifically labeled otherwise, materials presented on ACLU.org using the Adobe Acrobat ".pdf" format are intended for no cost or at cost distribution. Requests for commercial reproduction of ACLU catalogues and other ACLU-generated materials that are not in the public domain should be emailed to permissions@aclu.org. For specific parameters on reprinting ACLU materials, read Copyright and the American Civil Liberties Union Web site.

Who works at the ACLU?

Read about the ACLU's leaders and staff who work to defend and preserve individual rights and liberties.

Where can I find out about jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities at the ACLU?

You can find descriptions of our available positions at affiliate offices and national headquarters on the Career Opportunities page. To learn more about volunteering for the ACLU or if you are an attorney interested in offering your services pro bono, please contact your local ACLU affiliate.

I recently joined the ACLU but I haven't received my card yet.

If you have recently become a member of the ACLU and are waiting to receive your member card in the mail, please note that it takes about 3-4 weeks to process a new membership application and card. If more than 4 weeks have passed and you have still not received your card, please contact membership@aclu.org or call 212-549-2585.

Why do I get renewal and join mailings even though my membership is current?

The membership department sends out renewal notices before your membership expires to ensure there is no gap in your membership status. If you are concerned about notices you are receiving, please contact the ACLU's membership department by e-mail or telephone (1-212-549-2585).

I am a member. How do I update or correct my contact information with the ACLU membership office?

Please click here to fill out our change of address form in order to update or correct your mailing address, telephone number and/or email address.

I do not want the ACLU to share my name and mailing address with other charities. What do I need to do to guarantee that?

If you would prefer that the ACLU not share your name or mailing address with other charities, please fill out our No-Exchange of Name Form.

I want to change the emails I receive from the ACLU. What should I do?

If you would like to be unsubscribed from our mailing lists or would like to change your email address or subscription preferences, please log in to our user preferences area using your existing User Name and Password. If you have never used a User Name or Password at ACLU.org, you will need to request one using your subscriber email address. Once you have successfully logged in, you can change your settings.

 

To change your subscriber email address, click on "personal profile" once you have logged in. You can also unsubscribe from ACLU emails by sending an email to aclucorrespond@aclu.org with "unsubscribe" in the subject line or by sending a letter to ACLU Webmaster, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY, 10004.

I am having trouble with my password. What should I do?

You can have your password emailed to you by providing the email address you registered with at the Login page. You can then use this password to sign in. Once logged in, click on "personal profile" and you will then be able to change your password to whatever you'd like.

About This Web Site

 

What's available on ACLU.org?

ACLU.org has so much to offer, including:

What is your Web site's privacy policy?

The ACLU is a fierce protector of individual privacy. Read the ACLU's detailed privacy statement.

Is the ACLU website secure and do you use "cookies"?

The personal data we collect about you is stored on a secure, password-protected server. We use industry-standard encryption technologies with respect to the receipt and transfer of personal data you submit on our site and only authorized personnel have access to your information. Nevertheless, despite our best efforts, no transmission over the Internet can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. The ACLU.org does not use any cookies that are permanently written to your computer's hard drive or retained by the ACLU or our vendors. The ACLU.org does set "session-specific cookies" to help run its interactive online applications, such as the shopping cart online store. Read more in our privacy statement.

What is a plug-in and what plug-ins are required to view the Web site?

A "plug-in" is an additional piece of software used by a Web browser to display information, often in the form of audio, video and large-document files like court dockets. ACLU.org uses primarily the free-to-download software Flash Player and Adobe Acrobat Reader.

How do I find a topic I'm looking for?

Use the ACLU.org advanced search feature. To search for exact phrases, use quotation marks, use AND to restrict searches, use OR to expand searches, and, to create search exceptions, use NOT.

How do I make ACLU.org my homepage using Firefox?

Go to "Tools" on the standard toolbar at the top of your screen. Select "Options..." from the bottom of the pull-down menu. Click on the "Main" tab. Then click in the box next to "Home Page" and type www.aclu.org. Click OK.

How do I make ACLU.org my homepage using Internet Explorer?

Click "Tools" on the standard toolbar at the top of your screen. Select "Internet Options" in the pull-down menu. A window with tabs will appear. Click the tab marked "General." Here there will be three sections in the window, with the top one labeled "Home Page." In the box marked "address," type www.aclu.org and click OK.

ACLU Issues

 

What is the PATRIOT Act?

The PATRIOT Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It ushered in an overnight revision of the nation's surveillance laws that vastly expands the government's authority to spy on its citizens, while reducing checks and balances on those powers. The ACLU is pushing for Congress to re-examine provisions of the PATRIOT Act to ensure that it is in alignment with key constitutional protections and prevent any further intrusions, like the creation of a PATRIOT II.

What is the ACLU's position on affirmative action?

The ACLU supports affirmative action as one of the most effective tools for redressing injustices caused by our nation's historic discrimination against people of color and women.

Is the ACLU against religion?

The ACLU believes that the right of each and every American to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all, is among the most fundamental of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The ACLU works to ensure religious liberty is protected by keeping the government out of the realm of all religions. For more information, please see the Religious Liberty section.

Does the ACLU have Communist roots? Was co-founder Roger Baldwin a Communist?

No, Roger Baldwin was not a Communist. Like many of his contemporaries, he observed and wrote about the social and political issues in the early years of the Soviet Union, but later he wrote, "The Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939, a traumatic shock to me, ended any ambivalence I had about the Soviet Union, and all cooperation with Communists in united fronts."

 

Throughout the organization's history and particularly during the McCarthy era, the ACLU, its members, staff and founders have been accused of being Communists. The ACLU has no political affiliations and makes no test of individuals' ideological leanings a condition of membership or employment. Members and staff of the national ACLU and its affiliates may be Republicans, Democrats, Communists, Federalists, Libertarians, or members of any other political party or no party at all. What the ACLU asks of its staff and officials is that they consistently defend civil liberties and the Constitution.

Why did the ACLU represent NAMBLA?

The ACLU of Massachusetts represented members of NAMBLA because, while the ACLU does not advocate sexual relationships between adults and children, we do advocate robust freedom of speech. This lawsuit struck at the heart of the First Amendment. It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something people find reasonable. The defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people reject. For more information about the case, please contact the ACLU of Massachusetts.

What is the ACLU's position on the Second Amendment?

The Second Amendment provides: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Given the reference to "a well regulated Militia" and "the security of a free State," the ACLU has long taken the position that the Second Amendment protects a collective right rather than an individual right. For more information, please read our statement on the Second Amendment.

Why does the ACLU want to remove crosses from federal cemeteries?

This is a myth.  The ACLU does NOT want to remove crosses from federal cemeteries.  To the contrary, we have fought to expand the right of veterans and their families to decide for themselves which religious symbols, if any, mark the military graves of those who served and died for our country. 

 

We do, however, oppose government action that embraces and promotes a single religious symbol as a national war memorial, suggesting that the sacrifices of some servicemembers are valued above all others.  Unlike individual headstones for fallen American soldiers -- which appropriately reflect the varied, personal religious preferences of those brave men and women -- official sectarian war memorials claim to speak for all veterans, and dishonor our religiously diverse military by playing favorites with faith. To learn more visit https://www.aclu.org/religion-belief

Why does the ACLU object to federal employees bowing their heads?

The ACLU has no knowledge about the photograph of Marines praying that has circulated on the Internet. The ACLU has also never had a spokesperson -- quoted by news organizations as "Lucius Traveler" -- by this name.

What is the ACLU's position on campaign finance after the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision?

Please see our statement, "The ACLU and Citizens United," for information.

Violation of Rights

 

I was detained at the airport. What can I do?

Report your experience if you were a victim of a "no-fly" list. If you were a victim of racial profiling, please call our hotline at 1-877-634-5454.

I believe my rights were violated at the airport. What can I do?

Read about pat-down search abuse, and report your experience.

Can my school dictate my appearance?

It depends on what state you live in. In some states, students can wear their hair any way they want as long as it's not a safety hazard (if your hair is very long, you have to tie it back during a science experiment). Courts in other states allow school hair codes -- and where hair codes are permitted, so are dress codes. For more information, please read our position paper on "Freedom of Expression." You can also check with your local ACLU affiliate about the laws in your state.

I'm concerned about my civil liberties. What can I do?

Join the ACLU. You can join the ACLU's Action Network to receive weekly alerts about legislative issues and to send free faxes to your members of Congress. Visit the ACLU's Action Center and take the steps listed on the Action Checklist. You can also volunteer to work with your local ACLU affiliate to address state and local issues.

Can my employer make me take a drug test?

Despite the fact that random drug testing is often unrelated to the tasks required to do the job, produces inaccurate results, and remains unproven as a means of stopping drug use, currently in some industries taking a drug test is as routine as filling out a job application. Because there are few laws protecting our privacy in the workplace, millions of American workers are tested each year — even though they aren't suspected of drug use. While workplace drug testing in certain safety-sensitive professions has been upheld by the Supreme Court, the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project is working to halt the expansion of random testing programs. For more information, go to: www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/drug-testing