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"The ACLU has stood four-square against the recurring tides of hysteria that from time to time threaten freedoms everywhere... Indeed, it is difficult to appreciate how far our freedoms might have eroded had it not been for the Union's valiant representation in the courts of the constitutional rights of all people of all persuasions, no matter how unpopular or even despised by the majority they were at the time."

former Chief Justice Earl Warren


"I'd hate to think what First Amendment rights would amount to today -- if they still existed -- without the vigilance and dedication of the ACLU. The severe challenges to free speech and free press that we've seen in recent years, not all of which have been overcome, make it clear that if we hadn't had the ACLU, we'd have had to invent it."

Tom Wicker
Columnist, New York Times


"How irritating the ACLU can be when it is wrong -- that is to say, when it disagrees with me . . . How irritating and how essential, because it is the right to differ that the ACLU above all fights to preserve, even to differ with sound-thinking liberals. Again and again it has outraged its own supporters, but in time most of them have understand that freedom depends on one's willingness to be outraged. And history has most often shown that the ACLU was not wrong, just lonely it its opposition to censors and tyrants."

Anthony Lewis
Columnist and Author


"The ACLU may be prickly and annoying but it is probably indispensable to a society which seems to need reminding of what its liberties mean about once a week. What looks irritating today, often looks wonderfully farsighted and reasonable, even inevitable, a year hence. And it is entitled to be wrong-headed at times, like all the rest of us."

Robert MacNeil
Broadcast Journalist, The MacNeil Lehrer Report


"The ever increasing complexity of economic and social problems confronting this country will inevitably lead to increasing the role of the federal and local government in managing our affairs. The task of protecting the rights of the individual from infringement by the government will become more and more important. No other organization has performed the task in the past and will be capable of performing it with the same vigor and effectiveness in the future as the American Civil Liberties Union."

Wassily Leontief
Nobel Prize-winning Economist


" For the past 60 years American democracy has been reinforced by the existence of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU has persisted in meeting the most difficult tests of being the moral conscience of our nation. It has protected the fundamental political and human rights of all Americans----indeed of all human beings within our jurisdiction. Its operational ideology has been and continues to be that all ideologies and all beliefs must have equal freedom of expression; no human being or groups of human beings can be permitted to restrict or suppress the rights of other human beings. As expected, the ACLU has been criticized, threatened and ridiculed. But the power of its moral strength is demonstrated by the fact that the greater the risks and threats, the greater its clarity, its courage and its persistence. In fulfilling this difficult role, the ACLU will continue to give substance to American democracy and will help us to distinguish between social barbarism and civilization."

Kenneth B. Clark,
Psychologist and Educator


Last updated September 05, 2005
Copyright ACLU of Oregon September, 2005