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About Us

The Bill of Rights would only be well-meaning promises if people did not fight to protect it. The ACLU is the nation's premier organization dedicated to defending and expanding civil liberties and civil rights for all people in America. Our job is to conserve America's original civic values - the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Dallas Malloy

Dallas Malloy came to the ACLU of Washington when the amateur boxing association refused to allow a female to box. The ACLU won the case and Dallas won her first bout.

  • We're in the courts every day for hundreds of ordinary Americans - when their rights to equal treatment, fairness, privacy, freedom of speech or religion are threatened.
  • We are working to resist government responses to terrorism that make us less free and no safer.
  • We staunchly support every person's right to make personal decisions - without government interference - about religion, abortion, marriage, and other family and lifestyle matters.
  • We are working to make sure that emerging technologies do not diminish our right to privacy and that freedom of speech is protected in cyberspace.
  • The ACLU is a leader in the fight for equal opportunity regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Eternal Vigilance is the price of liberty

Since its founding in 1920, the ACLU has known that liberty must be defended over and over again. That's why ACLU attorneys stand before the Supreme Court more often than anyone else except the federal government itself. And for every case we bring before the Supreme Court, we bring hundreds more nationwide to lower courts and school boards.

The ACLU is an unwavering voice of liberty in courtrooms, legislatures and public squares, willing to take on clients, causes and cases that advance our basic rights, without regard to popular whim or the current political climate, and paying particular attention to the rights of those people who have historically been disenfranchised.

ACLU of Washington – Then . . .

Gordon Hirabayash During World War II, Gordon Hirabayashi disobeyed the curfew imposed on Japanese Americans. The ACLU called the laws wartime hysteria. Forty years later, the U.S. government admitted its wrongdoing and offered reparations.

In 1931, a Seattle ACLU Committee was formed, led by UW student, a local lawyer, and a woman who was later to become a state senator. Their work sounds amazingly similar to our work today. The group worked to secure political rights for unpopular activists, aid immigrants threatened with deportation, object to loyalty oaths for teachers, support a campaign to remove military training from the UW campus, and deplore beatings of Filipino farm workers in the Kent Valley.

. . . and Now

The informal committee has grown into one of the strongest and most successful state ACLU affiliates in the country with a membership exceeding 20,000.

Today the ACLU of Washington takes on major law reform through litigation and legislative action. We provide assistance and advocacy for individuals and community groups. We lobby on scores of bills in the state legislature and local councils. We offer speakers, pamphlets and education materials to schools and community groups throughout the state.

Active, dedicated members work with a staff of lawyers, advocates, and organizers to respond quickly and strategically to civil liberties challenges. Scores of volunteers, as well as numerous local community and student activists, help to advance the cause. A statewide Board of Directors sets policy and direction, raises funds, and provides legal and fiduciary oversight.

The ACLU Needs You

Perry Watkins The army knew when it drafted Perry Watkins that he was gay. Years later, when the army tried to discharge him, Perry came to the ACLU of Washington, which obtained a ruling that he be reinstated.

It takes a lot of time, resources, and dedicated supporters to safeguard liberty. That's why the ACLU needs you. In each generation, people who care about freedom step forward to ensure that liberty survives. We hope you are one of those people - and that you'll join with others like yourself as a proud member of the ACLU.