American Civil Liberties Union

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History of the American Civil Liberties Union

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has a long and both controversial and troubled history since its founding about the time of World War One.

Over the decades, the national ACLU, and some of its major state/local affiliates, have been active supporters of the Communist Party USA CPUSA and other anti-American communist groups under the guise of "free speech" and "freedom of association." The fact that top CPUSA members were often leaders of the ACLU, especially as "Officers" or members of the "Board of Directors", helped to explain the various political shifts of that organization from the political center to the far-left. The purge of one key CPUSA member in the 1940's, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, helped to expose the deep penetration of that organization by the CPUSA, and led to the resignation of other covert CPUSA members and sympathizers. This action opened up a wide debate within the ACLU and even the legal field that continued on for decades until a radical & guilt-ridden-liberal dominated group apologized for the purge of communists. Template:CITATIONS.

While many local, state and even the national office of the ACLU were made up of sincere liberal believers in the Constitution, and defended many controversial, if not outright loathsome individuals and organizations regarding "free speech" and "free association", the communists and their sympathizers used the "First Amendment" to undermine the internal security of the United States time after time (which will be detailed as this site is built).

One will find that national ACLU lawyers and their arguments on internal security laws, paralleled almost to the word the position of many CPUSA fronts including the National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee/House Internal Security Committee (NCAHUAC/HISC)which later became the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation (NCARL); the congressionally identified CPUSA front, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG); and the NLG-off-shoot, the even-more-dangerous Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), as well as the strictly CPUSA legal front, the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (NECLC), originally known as the National Emergency Civil Liberties Union (NECLU).

Other CPUSA fronts that often had ACLU support were the Citizens Committee for Civil Liberties (CCCL); the Civil Rights Congress (CRC); the International Labor Defense (ILD); the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties (NFCL); the National Negro Congress (NNC); the National Committee to Defeat the Mundt Bill; the National Committee to Defeat the McCarren Act; and the National Assembly for Democratic Rights (NADR), among a host of lesser CP operations.[1].

Criticized 2018 State of the Union Address for using word "America"

In an ACLU press release[2] published in the wake of the 2018 State of the Union Address, ACLU National Political Director Faiz Shakir criticized President Trump's over-use of the word "America," saying it was "exclusionary." Faiz Shakir wrote:

"Tonight, President Trump said the word ‘America’ more than 80 times in his speech. Yet, after a divisive first year, we hear and feel how exclusionary that ‘America’ is, with policies that have harmed so many vulnerable American communities. The ACLU stands ready to protect these communities, both in the courts and at the polls.
Faiz Shakir says Trump says America too much
"In particular, the immigration plan put forth by Trump would hold Dreamers hostage to his demands for a harmful border wall and an even larger mass deportation force. We are at this crossroads because of the president’s deeply destructive ideas fomented by his nativist allies and divisive rhetoric. We will continue to stand up for these young immigrants and ensure they continue to contribute to our country. We cannot let America’s Dreamers be deported.'"

In March 2017, it was reported that the ACLU was attempting to lead a "grassroots" movement against President Trump by creating an "organizing platform" called Faiz Shakir was quoted as advocating for "freedom cities" that would resist President Trump.[3]

"The ACLU also launched a new grassroots online organizing platform called It's billed as a way for people considering a local protest or rally to connect and coordinate with others around the country with similar intentions, and to provide details of ACLU initiatives.
"Another plan is creation of "freedom cities" around the country that would encourage local officials to pass laws resisting Trump policies such as stepped-up deportations of people living in the country illegally, said Faiz Shakir, ACLU national political director.

Padma Lakshmi also spoke at the event.

ACLU Annual Report 1975

The ACLU normally puts out an "annual report" for the calendar year with lists of Officers, the Board of Directors, and their various programs and projects.

Most members of the "Officers" and "Board of Directors" were not members of the Communist Party USA, though some key individuals will show up in assorted marxist/socialist organizations over time, and their influence on the ACLU policies and direction cannot be underestimated. The majority of the ACLU leaders were from across the political spectrum though mainly left-of-center. The best way to see who was doing what is to go to their KW page and see what kind of information has been entered about them, and in what context their associations occurred.


Board of Directors:

Hirschkop was also listed as a sponsor of the SWP front, the Political Rights Defense Fund (PRDF) in a list of "PRDF Sponsors" sent out in the mail between 1973-75, identifying him as "attorney".

The More Modern ACLU

American Civil Liberties Union is a part of the ACLU, which is also comprised of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation. One cannot donate a non-deductible donation to the American Civil Liberties Union, but can donate a deductible donation to the ACLU Foundation.[6]

Two organizations

Both organizations support the ACLU's litigation, communications and public education programs, but certain activities cannot be supported with tax-deductible donations (lobbying--federal law limits the amount that a tax-exempt organization can spend on lobbying).

The non-deductible donations have funded legislative lobbying lately, such as fighting the Patriot Act, the efforts to stop FISA regulations passed by Congress, the opposition of a National ID card and advancing voting rights legislation. The ACLU specifically suggests:

"Therefore, we strongly encourage donors interested in supporting the broad range of the ACLU's work to consider making the largest possible non-deductible gift that they can afford to the American Civil Liberties Union."



The following are affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union:[8]

External links


  1. Citations for these organizations as CPUSA fronts can be found in "Guide to Subversive Organizations and Publications (and Appendixes), Rev. December 1, 1961, with Index, as well as at their individual pages at KW
  2. ACLU: TRUMP’S AMERICA IS EXCLUSIONARY, Accessed January 31 2018
  3., Accessed January 31 2018
  4. S. Steven Powell, Covert Cadre: Inside the Institute for Policy Studies, Green Hill, 1987, pp. 216 and 225-226
  5. NCARL letterhead ca. 1975, and "Fifteen Report of the California Senate Subcommittee on Un-American Activities, 1970 re NCAHUAC/HISC conference, 1969
  6. About the ACLU
  7. ACLU Staff
  8. ACLU affiliates