The public has brought back the ACLU

Students should take note of infringements upon rights and revitalization of public support for groups like the American Civil Liberties Union

Americans in the Trump-era are rediscovering outlets to project their voices.

One full month since the induction of the new President, the most active social organization in the United States has proven to be the American Civil Liberties Union. As both government and public actions have begun to infringe upon guaranteed rights, the ACLU has returned to center stage.

As a result of political upheaval directly following the election and more recently in events like the travel ban executive order, a marked portion of the American people have shown support for the ACLU. Since Trump's election, the organization has received $79 million in online donations, and $24 million of that total was received over the course of two days following the announcement of the travel ban. 

Students at ASU may also find their own rights coming under fire, and they should take it upon themselves to understand and protect their own rights in a turbulent political climate.

"Institutions like these are critical now," said Dr. Reed Wood, an associate professor focusing on human rights in the ASU School of Politics and Global Studies. "What we're seeing is more of a reintroduction than a resurgence, especially since many of this issues have existed for awhile, but the pace and the urgency has certainly increased."

Recent developments in the Phoenix area have also demonstrated the importance of rights advocates like the ACLU, and more importantly, an understanding for what these groups do. In response to the deportation of Guadalupe García de Rayos, which made waves through the media and community, the ACLU released resources educating people on how to conduct themselves if Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials show up.

Events like these have reminded the public of the importance of groups that are interested in the protection of rights. "There are many different groups protecting rights, with an emphasis down here on immigration," Wood said. 

However, the ACLU does not always appear to be the hero in the public eye. 

"There are plenty of similarly-purposed entities," Wood said. "The NRA is premised upon protecting certain rights, as is the Southern Poverty Law Center." 

Like the NRA, the American Civil Liberties Union comes to the defense of those with infringed liberties, even when those cases may not be as attractive to the vocal majority. Its principal lies upon defending the liberty of American citizens to assemble and engage in free expression, like in the recent case of Milo Yiannopoulos and his own brand of inflammatory commentary. 

As unprecedented interest in the ACLU continues to materialize today, the public must continue to support the organization as it protects the rights of Americans, even when that means supporting groups that are deplorable in the public eye. 

The public needs groups like the ACLU to act as watchdogs against the elected powers in government, but the public must also be able to understand why it acts in favor of the people and against the majority in some cases. 

The ACLU is back in the limelight, and proper understanding and support from the public should lead to effective safeguarding of rights throughout this administration.

Reach the columnist at or follow @jonahpbaker on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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