American Civil Liberties Union American Civil Liberties Union The American Civil Liberties Union is an organization which takes on the issues of concern to the American public and any violations of their rights, or liberties, including discrimination. I turned to their web site for information regarding their activity. The following information is from the summary of their work in 1999. Although it’s two years old, I feel it paints an accurate picture of the ACLU, their work, and what they stand for. Teen Mothers in National Honor Society In the spring of 1998, two 18 year old teen mothers were barred from admission into the National Honor Society(NHS) based on the fact that they’d had premarital sex. The selection committee blatantly disregarded the fact that these two girls were highly qualified for induction into the NHS.
At this point the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project filed a discrimination lawsuit, and the following May the girls were inducted into the society. Abortion The ACLU, which is a pro-choice organization, filed a legal challenge through it’s Reproductive Freedom Project concerning New Jersey’s Parental Notification Act. The act requires minors to obtain either parental consent or a court order before getting an abortion. The ACLU feels that this law will do more harm than good. They believe that most teens considering abortion have already involved their parents in their decision; and that the ones who haven’t have done so for a reason.
In a similar situation, the House of Representatives passed a bill making a criminal out of anyone other than a parent taking a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion. The ACLU feels that this bill will once again do more harm than good, by dissuading girls from getting help from someone they trust. Adoption By Gay/Lesbian Couples The ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project is challenging Florida’s ban on gay and lesbian adoptions, citing the 2,000 foster children without homes. In addition, the ACLU is also challenging regulations in both Utah and Arkansas banning adoptions and foster care by gay men and lesbians. Similarly, the Supreme Court in Mississippi denied a gay father custody of his child due to his sexual orientation, leaving the child in a violent home.
The Supreme Courts in Alabama and North Carolina upheld decisions denying gay and lesbian parents custody of their children as well. Michael Adams, Associate Director of the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project: Good parenting has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Rather, it is influenced most profoundly by a parent’s ability to create a loving and nurturing home–an ability that does not depend on whether a parent is gay or straight. Religion in Public Schools/Towns A Wiccan in Republic, Missouri had to quit her job at the local newspaper due to an editorial she wrote denouncing the city’s use of the ichthus, a Christian symbol, in the city’s logo. Due to a challenge filed by the ACLU, the courts found that the seal gives the impression that non-Christians are outsiders, and the Constitution protects against such discrimination. The ACLU feels that separation of church and state is critical due to situations such as this.
The Governor of Kansas, along with a statewide committee of scientists, denounced the idea of ‘creation-science’ being implemented into public school science curriculum. Kansas officials wanted to remove nearly all mention of evolution from the science curriculum and allow schools to instead use religious-based theories. The ACLU saw this as a clearly unconstitutional attempt to introduce religious standpoints in the classroom. The American Civil Liberties Union is an organization that is there to help the people and give them a voice. They stand up for the minority as well as the majority when they feel an injustice has taken place. Whether one agrees or not with the views of the ACLU, and the causes they promote, it’s main goal is to support those people and groups deemed in need. The ACLU has had much success in achieving their goal and will continue to do so as long as there is discrimination and injustice in our country.