The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has fought for American civil liberties for nearly 100 years. In the Trump era, that is going to be a very important job, indeed, and expensive.
During Trumps first few weeks in office, he was already sued by the ACLU and lost. They are the group that got a judge to issue a stay against his Executive Order blocking all “immigrant and non-immigrant” entry to the United States from 7 predominantly Muslim countries.
As the ACLU Executive Director, Anthony D. Romero, put it:
The silver lining to their fight against this for-all-intents-and-purposes Muslim ban? The ACLU saw their membership grow by over 150,000 and raised over ten million dollars, overnight.
What is even more exciting is that they continued to raise funds, and shattered their fundraising in the past. According to The Week, they raised $24,164,691 from 356,306 online donations over the weekend. A typical year, yes entire year’s worth, of on-line donations to the ACLU is only 4 million dollars.
And the ACLU isn’t done fighting, not by a long shot, according to the Washington post‘s Greg Sargent. He was told by Lee Gelernt, a senior lawyer at the ACLU’s national office who was a principal lawyer in this case:
In coming days, I’m told, the American Civil Liberties Union is likely to file a lawsuit that is designed to overturn the entire executive order. This lawsuit will be separate and distinct from the one that the ACLU filed over the weekend, which successfully blocked the deportation of people detained upon trying to enter the United States. The new lawsuit will try to get the entire executive order declared unconstitutional, on behalf of all of the people impacted by it.
Americans live a life of assured liberty, at least we have, and that liberty is in danger under the Trump administration. We are going to need litigation to stand up to the Trump administration, the Democrats do not have the numbers in Congress to effectively oppose them (and to be honest are in what people in sports like to call a “rebuilding year,” and not well organized). The checks and balances of our three-branch system are now gravely hindered. Because we face this unbalanced government, Romero said, “the two pincers (opposing Trump) have to be litigation and citizen action.”
Romero wrote stirring words when discussing the success of their first legal challenge:
The United States is a nation governed by the rule of law and not the iron will of one man. President Trump now has learned that we are democratic republic where the powers of government are not dictatorial. They are limited. The courts are the bulwark of our democracy that protects individual rights and guards against the overreaching of an administration that confuses its will for the American public’s.
The citizen action he has called for overwhelmingly came into play when the country opened up their wallets to put their money where their beliefs are: with the ACLU fighting an oppressive regime. It was truly a twenty-four million dollar win.