American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a major American non-profit organization with headquarters in New York City, whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." (per its website).
- It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something many people find at least reasonable. But the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive. That was true when the Nazis marched in Skokie. It remains true today.
- ACLU Statement on Defending Free Speech of Unpopular Organizations. ACLU.org (2000-08-31). Retrieved on 2010-12-02.
- The ACLU has long argued that veterans and their families should be free to choose religious symbols on military headstones — whether Crosses, Stars of David, Pentacles, or other symbols — and that the government should not be permitted to restrict such religious expression in federal cemeteries.
- Veterans Win Right to Post Religious Symbol on Headstones. ACLU.org (2007-04-23). Retrieved on 2010-12-02.
- Members of the military have a right to pray or not pray as they personally see fit, and that right is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. It is one of the fundamental rights they put their lives on the line to defend in service to their country. But the government should not be in the business of compelling religious observance, particularly in military academies, where students can feel coerced by senior students and officials and risk the loss of leadership opportunities for following their conscience.
- Deborah A. Jeon, Legal Director, ACLU of Maryland, in ACLU Calls For End To Mandatory Prayer At U.S. Naval Academy. ACLU.org (2008-06-25). Retrieved on 2010-12-02.
- The ACLU is devoted to some very controversial principles — like the principle that everyone who is arrested should enjoy the same constitutional rights, regardless of their alleged crime or their character. We don't take that position to irritate people; we take that position because we believe in it. We believe in it, in part, in a spirit of enlightened self-interest, because the rights of each one of us are co-extensive with the rights of everyone who is arrested and prosecuted in the criminal courts. If we all don't enjoy the same rights, then no one enjoys any rights at all; some of us merely enjoy privilege.
- Roger Nash Baldwin (co-founder)