ACLU Mourns Passing of Molly Ivins

February 1, 2007 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed its deep sorrow over the death of legendary journalist and columnist Molly Ivins, who passed away Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. Ivins was a steadfast supporter of civil liberties, and a longtime friend of the ACLU.

Leaders Remember Ivins as Good Friend and Heroic Supporter of Civil Liberties; Fund Established in Her Honor

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CONTACT: media@aclu.org

VIDEO
Molly Ivins gives an impassioned account of the ACLU’s ongoing fight for freedom of religion and belief. >>

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed its deep sorrow over the death of legendary journalist and columnist Molly Ivins, who passed away Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. Ivins was a steadfast supporter of civil liberties, and a longtime friend of the ACLU.

“We are deeply saddened by Molly Ivins’ death. She was a much-loved member of the ACLU family, and highly respected for her staunch commitment to the protection of individual freedoms. Her cutting wit, remarkable intellect and down-home wisdom will be terribly missed,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. The ACLU is establishing the Molly Ivins Fund for Justice and Liberty in Ivins’ honor.

Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU, added, “Through her passionate and hard-hitting columns, Molly Ivins made an incalculable contribution to educating the public about civil liberties. Her absence will be sorely felt at the ACLU.”

Throughout the years, Ivins has not only defended her own right to free speech, but also that of her political opponents. Ivins was dedicated to promoting racial justice, exposing discrimination, protecting a woman’s right to choose, and defending the rights secured to unpopular Americans by the Bill of Rights.

In recent years, Ivins, in her ever-folksy and acerbic style, used her columns to point out how the Bush administration, in the name of national security and patriotism, has infringed on Americans’ valued constitutional rights and usurped excessive power. Her appreciation for the ACLU’s work in fighting off these assaults is best understood from her own pungent words. In a July 2005 column, she wrote: “We suffer the worst attack on this country since Pearl Harbor, and the Bush administration sends the FBI after the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU exists to protect every citizen’s rights as defined in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the United States. The ACLU works solely through the legal system: It does not advocate violence, terrorism or any other damn thing except the Bill of Rights. Since when is that extremist? … We are living in a time when our government is investigating an organization that stands for the highest and best American ideals.”

In an interview for a documentary on the ACLU, Ivins, commenting on the importance of freedom of religion and the concept of the separation of church and state, recognized the ACLU’s unrelenting persistence in defending that ideal: “That principle,” she said, “is so important that it’s worth being a pain in the ass about. And that’s what the ACLU is.”

Ivins not only supported the ACLU’s principles, but also worked tirelessly to benefit the organization. She spoke at countless affiliate dinners, and at one point resolved to do something for the ACLU at least once a month. She held a special place in the heart of the ACLU of Texas, Ivins’ home state. “Molly was a huge supporter of civil liberties and a national icon and she will be mourned by many. But at the ACLU of Texas, today we’re deeply saddened that we lost a neighbor and a friend,” said Will Harrell, Executive Director of the ACLU of Texas and a close friend of Ivins.

“Molly Ivins’ legacy will never be forgotten at the ACLU,” said Romero. “She would travel the country speaking to ACLU audiences – bringing laughter and clarity during some very troubling times. Like our founder, Roger Baldwin, who believed in the ACLU’s work ‘out there,’ Molly believed in speaking to the grass roots. She was one-of-a-kind, but we will continue to do the important work that would make her proud. And we will laugh at ourselves, as she would have wanted from us.”

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