American Civil Liberties Union


American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU)
   The ACLU was founded in 1920 by social reformers, including Roger Baldwin, Jane Addams, Crystal Eastman, and Clarence Darrow. It was established to preserve civil liberties guaranteed under the Bill of Rights of the Constitution, namely, freedom of speech, press, and religion. During the 1920s, the ACLU supported John Scopes in the famous “Scopes Money Trial” (1925) and also Italian anarchists Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (1927). It was involved in the defense of the Scottsboro Boys in the 1930s. In 1933, the ACLU played a significant role in the case permitting James Joyce’s book Ulysses to be allowed into the United States.
   From 1936 to 1943, the ACLU provided assistance to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in their campaign to allow children to be exempted from saluting the national flag on religious grounds. The Supreme Court found in favor of the flag salute requirements in 1940 but reversed itself in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette in1943. During World War II, the ACLU helped represent the Japanese Americans challenging wartime internment in the cases of Korematsu v. United States and Hirabayashi v. United States. During the Cold War years, the ACLU challenged the federal loyalty program and led the opposition to loyalty oaths in a number of states. However, the organization was divided during this period, with some members, including one of its founders, Roger Baldwin, supporting anticommunist measures.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.