In the 1980's, even as we sought to extend the protections of the law still further, we were already witnessing the beginning of a rollback of civil rights and civil liberties. Women's reproductive rights were under severe attack and the emerging AIDS and drug crises were met with restrictions of Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure, and new assaults on the broader principles of privacy and equal protection.
But the ACLU of Southern California fought back, persuading a federal judge to rule that the San Luis Obispo school district could not keep five-year-old Ryan Thomas out of school because he had AIDS. Responding to a dire homelessness crisis, we successfully challenged the practice of denying shelter to people who lacked "proper identification," and forced LA County to modify its "sixty-day rule," which allowed it to suspend all general relief for two months for minor eligibility-rule infractions.
In 1983, we affirmed our affiliate's longstanding commitment to economic rights by drafting an "Economic Bill of Rights" declaring that "every person in the United States who desires to work and is capable of working should be assured of a basic standard of living."
In the 1990's, we fought to prevent further cutbacks in the areas of affirmative action and immigrant rights. We sought to stem the tide of censorship of music lyrics, of television, of the Internet. And we continued our longstanding commitment to economic justice, successfully challenging key provisions of the so-called Welfare Reform Act of 1996.