The ACLU or American Civil Liberties Union is an organization in the United States which describes itself as a civil liberties organization. Activities of the ACLU include:
- Filing lawsuits
- Publishing a scorecard of elected officials' voting records
- Providing pro bono legal assistance to selected people, usually on the basis that their case is a potential test case for the ACLU's positions, and providing referrals to attorneys for others in need
They take a consistent stance in favor of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, separation of church and state, and most of the other Bill of Rights, and on privacy issues and emerging issues of free speech on the Internet; however, this does not translate into a consistent libertarian position on all things. In particular they tend to view government regulation favorably when it is used in such areas as affirmative action and racial relations more generally, such as in employment. They also conspicuously ignore the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment. The ACLU is opposed to capital punishment and supports abortion rights, two positions supported by some but not all libertarians.
Some libertarians are ACLU members despite not agreeing with the organization across the board. Some libertarians view the organization less favorably and prefer not to join it.
Libertarian positions supported by the ACLU
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of the press
- Motorists rights, opposition to red light camera enforcement (sometimes - although this seems to be a new area for the ACLU)
- Internet and electronic rights
- Opposition to mandatory minimum sentencing
- Oppostion to the war on drugs
- Oppostion to the draft
- Opposition to civil forfeiture laws
Libertarian positions conspicuously ignored by the ACLU
- Gun rights/Second Amendment
- Fully informed juries
- Homeschooling rights
- Tax protest/tax resistance
ACLU positions in opposition to libertarian positions
- Affirmative action
- Employment discrimination laws
- Restrictions on the use of public areas for religious expression
- Public funding for abortion
- Restriction on the use of public facilities by private groups insisting on their freedom of association, e.g. the Boy Scouts.
- Public funding of election campaigns.