What is the ACLU?

The national American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Read more about the history and mission of the national ACLU.
The ACLU of Virginia is an affiliate of the national ACLU, with which we share resources and expertise.  Read more about the mission and history of the ACLU of Virginia.

How do I join the ACLU?

The need has never been greater for freedom-loving people to join the ACLU. You can join online, or by sending a check (“Membership” in memo line) to the ACLU of Virginia at 701 E. Franklin St., Ste. 1412, Richmond, VA 23219. Take a stand against the growing threats to our most cherished Constitutional liberties!

When you become a member of the national ACLU using a mailing address in Virginia, you are automatically a member of the Virginia affiliate as well.

I care about the issues. What can I do?

Get updates on the Fight for Freedom! Help raise freedom's voice in Virginia and across the nation. Join the Action Alert e-mail list to stay informed about current issues and campaigns, upcoming events, and how you can get more involved in the fight to protect and expand civil liberties. Become an advocate in your community by using our Advocacy Toolkits! Join People Power and work with others in your community on issues you care about.

I feel my rights were violated, who can help?

If you believe your civil liberties or civil rights were violated, please let us know by email or postal mail. Click here for more information on how to submit an intake.

Where can I find out about internships and volunteer opportunities at the ACLU?

To learn more about internships or volunteering with the ACLU of Virginia, click here.
If you are an attorney interested in offering your services pro bono, please click here for more information.

Why do I get renewal and join mailings even though my membership is current?

The national ACLU membership department sends out renewal notices before your membership expires to ensure there is no gap in your membership status. If you are concerned about notices you are receiving, please contact the ACLU's membership department by E-mail or telephone (1-212-549-2585).

I am a member. How do I update or correct my contact information with the ACLU?

Please email us at acluva@acluva.org or mail us your updated or corrected mailing address, telephone number and/or email address.  Please include your full name, old contact information, and new contact information. Mail to: ACLU of Virginia, 701 E. Franklin St., Ste. 1412, Richmond, VA 23219.

I do not want the ACLU to share my name and mailing address with other charities, what do I need to do to guarantee that?

If you would prefer that the ACLU not share your name or mailing address with other charities, please contact us by email (acluva@acluva.org) or mail, ACLU of Virginia, 701 E. Franklin St., Ste. 1412, Richmond, VA 23219.

What is the ACLU's position on affirmative action?

The ACLU supports affirmative action as one of the most effective tools for redressing injustices caused by our nation's historic discrimination against people of color and women.

Is the ACLU against religion?

The ACLU believes the right of each and every American to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all, is among the most fundamental of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The ACLU works to ensure religious liberty is protected by keeping the government out of the realm of all religions. If government has a religion, then there is no religious liberty apart from government. Read about the ACLU of Virginia’s work to defend religious liberty. For more information about the ACLU’s across the country, please click here.

Does the ACLU have Communist roots? Was co-founder Roger Baldwin a Communist?

No, Roger Baldwin was not a communist. Like many of his contemporaries, he observed and wrote about the social and political issues in the early years of the Soviet Union, but later he wrote, "The Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939, a traumatic shock to me, ended any ambivalence I had about the Soviet Union, and all cooperation with Communists in united fronts."
Throughout the organization’s history and particularly during the McCarthy era, the ACLU, its members, staff and founders have been accused of being communists. The ACLU has no political affiliations and makes no test of individuals' ideological leanings a condition of membership or employment. Members and staff of the national ACLU and its affiliates may be Republicans, Democrats, Communists, Federalists, Libertarians, or members of any other political party or no party at all. What the ACLU asks of its staff and officials is that they consistently defend civil liberties and the Constitution.

Why did the ACLU represent NAMBLA?

The ACLU of Massachusetts' represented members of NAMBLA because, while the ACLU does not advocate sexual relationships between adults and children, we do advocate robust freedom of speech. This lawsuit struck at the heart of the First Amendment. It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something people find reasonable. The defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people reject. For more information about the case, please contact the ACLU of Massachusetts.

Why did the ACLU of Virginia represent white supremacists in Charlottesville?

The ACLU of Virginia brought suit on behalf of an individual whose permit to demonstrate was revoked by the city government because the government had not met the standards required by the First Amendment to impose a prior restraint on speech. The purpose of the lawsuit was to make the government accountable to the constitution not to defend the content of the speech of white supremacists or Nazis, speech we abhor. For more information, see the op-ed written by our Executive Director and Board President that appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch.  

What is the ACLU's position on the Second Amendment?

The Second Amendment provides: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Given the reference to "a well regulated Militia" and "the security of a free State," the ACLU had long taken the position that the Second Amendment protects a collective right rather than an individual right. The United States Supreme Court held otherwise in District of Columbia v. HellerFor more information, please read our statement on the Second Amendment. The ACLU does not object to reasonable time, place, manner rules governing the Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

Why does the ACLU want to remove crosses from federal cemeteries?

The ACLU has never pursued the removal of religious symbols from personal gravestones. In fact, following lawsuits filed by the ACLU and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Department of Veterans Affairs agreed to allow family members to include religious symbols on headstones.

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.

Personal gravestones are the choice of the family members, not the choice of the government. The ACLU vigorously defends peoples’ freedom to choose the religious symbols of their choice. The right of each and every American to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all, is among the most fundamental of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution's framers understood very well that religious liberty can flourish only if the government leaves religion alone. The free exercise clause of the First Amendment guarantees the right to practice one's religion free of government interference. The ACLU will continue working to ensure that religious liberty is protected by keeping the government out of the religion business.