The Bill of Rights lays out the guiding principles of our democratic government: freedom and equality for all. It has served as the ACLU's blueprint for action since our inception in 1920. At that time the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were nearly 150 years old, yet people could not freely exercise many of the rights the Constitution guaranteed. People were denied the right to demonstrate publicly. There was no curb against censorship. Women's rights were unprotected. Racial discrimination was open and legal. There was no due process for the accused, and little protection for religious freedom. By winning one precedent-setting case after another, the ACLU has established the vast majority of civil liberties in the land.
Civil liberties are most vulnerable at times of crisis